The University of Iowa softball team travels to Memphis, Tennessee, for The Blues City Classic. The Hawkeyes open with matchups against Indiana State and Memphis on Friday at 11:30 a.m. (CT) and 6:30 p.m., respectively. They then face Butler at 11:30 a.m. Saturday. The game against Memphis will be streamed on ESPN+ (Subscription required).
Sophomore Grace Banes ranks 27th in the NCAA and second in the Big Ten with two triples.
B1G KID STATS
Nia Carter ranks second in the Big Ten in batting average (.474) and on base percentage (.556). Her batting average ranks 43rd nationally.
DOING IT ALL
Denali Loecker has started the season 6-0 in the circle with a 1.27 ERA. Loecker is also hitting .314 with six RBIs.
Head coach Renee Gillispie won her 900th career game on February 27 against Cornell. Gillispie ranks 19th among active coaches in D1 and 38th all-time.
NLSN ALL-TOURNEY TEAM
Sophomore Grace Banes and freshman Tristin Doster were named to the 2022 Northern Lights/Southern Nights Invitational All-Tournament Team.
Doster, a Fort Dodge, Iowa, native hit .459 on the weekend while slugging .857. In Iowa’s win over Liberty the freshman hit her first career grand slam. She tallied six RBIs and scored three runs.
Banes, a Kansas City, Kansas, native, hit .429 while slugging .615 in the Hawkeyes’ four games. She notched an RBI in each game. In total she had five RBIs and scored four runs.
Seven Hawkeyes hail from Iowa, seven from California, three from Indiana, two from Missouri, and one from Kansas, Pennsylvania and Nebraska. The roster is comprised of nine freshmen, seven sophomores, three juniors and three seniors. There are 11 returning letterwinners and 11 newcomers.
The Hawkeyes added two transfers for the 2022 season. Senior Breanna Vasquez comes to the Hawkeyes from Central Florida. Vasquez appeared in 51 games over three seasons for the Knights.
Junior Sophia Maras comes to the Hawkeyes from DMACC after being named the 2021 NFCA Player of the Year. She led the NJCAA in six major offensive categories (including runs (105), hits (117), home runs (29), RBI (92), total bases (234), and walks (40).
SCOUTING INDIANA STATE
Head Coach Mike Perniciaro enters his fifth season at Indiana State, and achieved his 300th career win last weekend. Indiana State leads in nine catagories in the Missouri Valley Conference. Senior outfielder Bella Peterson leads in batting average (.432), hits (19), slugging percentage (.659) and total bases (29). Junior pitcher Lexi Benko leads in saves (1), shutouts (2), strikeout-to-walk ratio (4.60) and walks allowed per seven innings (.84). The Sycamores rank second nationally in fielding percentage (.975).
Head Coach Natalie Poole enters her 10th season at the helm of Memphis softball. Poole is the second head coach in school history. Memphis competed against fellow B1G competitor Rutgers on February 10th. The Tigers defeated the Scarlet Knights, 6-3.
The Bulldogs are led by Scott Hall, who enters his 12th season as head coach. Butler competed against fellow B1G contender Ohio State on February 18th. The Buckeyes defeated the Bulldogs, 1-0. Butler ranks fifth in the Big East Conference in doubles totaling 13 this season. Freshman infielder Ella White leads the conference in triples.
PLAYING THE BEST
The Hawkeyes face 10 different teams that made the NCAA tournament in 2021. Eastern Kentucky, Liberty, Kentucky, South Dakota State, Wichita State, defending national champion Oklahoma, Minnesota, Iowa State, Northwestern, and Northern Iowa.
PROGRAM RECORD IN 2021
Iowa won a program-record 26 conference games in 2021. The previous record was 22 wins in 1997.
The Hawkeyes return three players who started every game a season ago for the Hawkeyes. Grace Banes, Nia Carter, and Riley Sheehy started all 44 games for the Hawkeyes.
B1G BATS ARE BACK
The Hawkeyes return 86 percent of their hits, 84 percent of their home runs, and 84 percent of their RBIs from 2021.
The Hawkeyes return two players who received Big Ten Honors. Loecker was named second team All-Big Ten. Loecker and Brylee Klosterman were both named to the All-Freshman team.
HOME SWEET HOME
The Hawkeyes compiled a 10-6 record at Pearl Field in 2021. Under Renee Gillispie the Hawkeyes are 18-16 at home (since 2019). Iowa is 431-219-1 all time at Pearl Field.
Junior Nia Carter returns for the Hawkeyes. In 2021, she ranked as the toughest batter to strikeout in the Big Ten (23.7 K Average). She ranked 38th in the country.
MOVE ‘EM OVER
Senior Riley Sheehy returns after being ranked 54th in the country and fourth in the Big Ten in sacrifice bunts per game (0.20) in 2021. She ranks fifth this season (0.20).
DON’T RUN ON THE HAWKS
The Hawkeyes tied for 11th in the country in 2021 with 17 runners caught stealing. They trailed only Rutgers and Boston College for most among power five schools. Iowa has caught three runners stealing so far this season.