CHAMPAIGN, Illinois — The University of Iowa softball team split Saturday’s doubleheader against Illinois at Eichelberger Field. Iowa won the first game, 7-3, in nine innings, while Illinois took the nightcap, 5-4.
Senior Breanna Vasquez got the start in the first game for the Hawkeyes throwing seven innings with eight strikeouts. Sophomore Denali Loecker threw two innings of relief and earned the win.
Sophomore Grace Banes and freshman Tristin Doster each recorded two hits. Junior Nia Carter, sophomore Sammy Diaz, and Loecker each tallied two RBIs.
Freshman Katherine Serna made her first career start in the second game. She took the loss throwing five innings and striking out five.
Banes went 1-for-3 with a two RBI double. Junior Sophia Maras and Diaz also each had an RBI.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Iowa (19-25, 2-15) scored first, plating two runs in the fourth inning. Loecker drew a walk, junior Kalena Burns was hit-by-pitch, and Diaz reached on an error to centerfield, which scored both runners.
A two-run home run by the Fighting Illini tied the game in the bottom of the seventh forcing extra innings.
Iowa’s offense exploded for a five-run ninth inning. Banes singled, Doster singled, and sophomore Brylee Klosterman reached on an error by the shortstop, which scored Banes. Carter tripled and scored Doster from third, followed by Loecker’s ninth home run of the year.
Illinois (29-16, 11-4) scored one run in the bottom half of the inning.
The Fighting Illini scored three runs in the first inning, one in the fourth, and one in the fifth as the Hawkeyes were held hitless through the first six innings.
Carter singled up the middle to lead off the top of the seventh. Loecker reached on an error, and Burns singled through the right side. With the bases loaded, Maras singled to the second baseman and Carter scored. Diaz singled through the right side to score another run. Banes hit a two-RBI double to right center to cut Illinois’ advantage to one, but the Hawkeyes were unable to plate the tying run.
HEAR FROM HEAD COACH RENEE GILLISPIE
“That was one of the best games Bre has thrown this year. I liked her fire and how she was going after the batters, and Denali being able to come in and finish it. They came out fired up, they looked like they were excited about going after them.”
“We gave up too many in the first inning in the second game. We needed to be tougher in the first inning. That could have easily been our game if we took care of our business in the first inning. The two errors hurt us. I am proud of how we came back and fought offensively to get those five hits in the seventh to give us a chance.”
The Hawkeyes travel to Ames, Iowa, to face Iowa State on Tuesday in the Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series.