LEESBURG, Florida– The University of Iowa softball team defeated Eastern Kentucky, 7-2, and No. 24 Liberty, 7-0, on Friday at the Sleepy Hollow Sports Complex.
Senior pitcher Breanna Vasquez went the distance in the circle in Game 1 as the Hawkeyes defeated the Colonels.
Sophomore Brylee Klosterman and junior Sophia Maras each had two RBIs on 2-of-4 hitting. Freshman Tristin Doster was 2-for-4 with an RBI.
Sophomore pitcher Denali Loecker notched her first career win in the second game as Iowa shutout the national ranked Flames.
“I am happy to be out there. Last year we had three solid pitchers so for me to have the opportunity this year is exciting. I am just doing the best I can and trusting the defense behind me. Having the offense score seven runs is a huge cushion and makes me more relaxed on the mound. It helps relieve that pressure.”
Doster hit her first career home run, a grand slam, in the first inning for the Hawkeyes. Junior Kalena Burns brough home two RBIs while Sophomore Grace Banes brought home one.
“Right when I hit that ball, I felt the excitement and the pure joy from my teammates,” said Doster. I could hear them as I rounded first base and it was so amazing when I got to home plate. My teammates were like ‘let’s go’, we knew we had the game.”
HOW IT HAPPENED
Eastern Kentucky scored the first run of the game in the first inning after a double, an error, and a passed ball. The Colonels added another run in the top of the second after a single, a sacrifice bunt, and another single. The Hawkeyes answered back with a big bottom half of the second tallying three runs after Loecker singled, Maras walked, senior Riley Sheehy moved them over with a sacrifice bunt, and sophomore Brylee Klosterman doubled to bring them home. Junior Nia Carter singled to bring Klosterman home.
Iowa added another run in the third inning after Doster singled, Loecker singled, and Maras brought Doster around with a single. The Hawkeyes notched a run in the bottom half of the fifth as Burns walked, and freshman pinch-runner Haley Downe scored on a Maras double.
The Hawkeyes added two more insurance runs in the sixth inning after a Klosterman double, a Banes single, a Burns single, and a Doster single.
The Hawkeyes got their bats going early in the second game. Iowa loaded the bases as Klosterman singled, Carter walked, Banes moved them over with a sacrifice bunt, and Burns was hit by a pitch. Doster cleared the bases with a home run giving the Hawkeyes a four-run lead.
Iowa added two runs in the second inning after Sheehy singled, Klosterman walked, and Carter hit a bunt single to load the bases for a second time. Banes and Burns both grounded out but each also plated a run. The Hawkeyes final run of the day would come in the seventh after Carter hit a leadoff triple and Burns hit a sacrifice fly to left field.
HEAR FROM HEAD COACH RENEE GILLISPIE
“The offense was fantastic. Looking at one through nine on the opportunities that we had. Fourteen runs in two games, coming out for our first series is incredible. The girls were really seeing the ball well. Tristin had a huge grand slam but looking at one through nine they did a fantastic job. Especially with runners in scoring position with opportunities to move them and score them. This offense is firing.”
“It is nice to see our pitchers rolling and see the team understanding how to fight for each other, to be focused on each other and not the other team. We had only one inning where we didn’t get the leadoff out in the Liberty game. We settled in after the first inning in the first game. I love where we are right now.”
- Loecker recorded her first career win, first career complete game, and first career shutout for the Hawkeyes.
- Doster’s grand slam was her first career home run.
- Loecker and Vasquez combined for nine strikeouts.
- The Hawkeyes last win against a ranked opponent came last season on April 24, 2021, against No. 24 Minnesota.
The Hawkeyes take on No. 19 Kentucky tomorrow at 9 a.m. (CT) at the Sleepy Hollow Sports Complex in Leesburg, Florida.