BOCA RATON, Florida — The University of Iowa softball team recorded a pair of victories on its opening day, beating Loyola (3-1) and Bethune-Cookman (8-0 in five innings) on Friday at the FAU Softball Stadium.
Senior pitcher Breanna Vasquez got the start in the first game for the Hawkeyes and went a solid six innings and junior Denali Loecker entered in the seventh to earn the save.
Loecker provided the Hawkeyes with the offensive power in the first contest going 2-for-3 with a home run and an RBI triple.
Freshman Jalen Adams got her first start as a Hawkeye in game two throwing a, five-inning, complete game shut-out.
Freshman Tory Bennett led the way offensively, going 3-for-3 with two runs scored and an RBI. Iowa hitters had a keen eye at the plate walking nine times.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Vasquez came out firing and struck out two batters in the opening frame. Loecker got things going, offensively, in the second inning with a leadoff home run for the Hawkeyes.
💣💣💣 @denaliloecker with the first home run of the season!!! @FloSoftball x 💻: https://t.co/nPctmiB2kl #Hawkeyes pic.twitter.com/rOkHkh1BMg
— Iowa Softball (@iowasoftball) February 10, 2023
The Ramblers loaded the bases in the top of the third, but Vasquez was able to strand them and get out of the frame. In the bottom of the inning, freshmen Anna Streff and Bennett recorded back-to-back singles for their first career hits.
Senior Nia Carter led off the fifth inning with a single to right field. With two outs, Loecker stayed hot and hit a triple off the fence in right center to score Carter and take the 2-0 lead.
Vasquez kept the Ramblers’ bats quiet in the middle innings, but Loyola got on the board in the sixth on an RBI double. The Hawkeyes were able to answer back in the bottom half. The combination of a hit, walk, sacrifice bunt, and an RBI ground out pushed Iowa’s advantage to 3-1.
Loecker entered the circle in the seventh and made quick work of the Ramblers to go three-up, three-down to secure the win for Iowa.
The Hawkeyes came out patient in the top half of the first inning. They were able to load the bases early and took the lead, 2-0, on back-to-back walks. Freshman Avery Jackson followed up with a sacrifice fly and then junior Tatianna Roman singled to left to make it 4-0. Iowa sent 11 batters to the plate in the first inning and took a commanding, 5-0, lead. Freshman Skylinn Pogue was able to help her pitcher out by throwing out Wildcat runners in the bottom of the first and third.
Carter led off the fourth inning with a single and crossed home plate on an RBI triple off the bat of Bennett. The Hawkeyes extended their lead to eight on back-to-back singles from Jackson and Roman.
Adams slammed the door in the fifth, to secure a run-rule victory for Iowa.
HEAR FROM HEAD COACH RENEE GILLISPIE
“We had two complete game team wins today. All aspects of our game looked sharp, from our pitching to our hitting to our defense. A number of our newcomers saw some action in the field and they looked solid. We came in with a plan and we executed. We ae looking forward to the games tomorrow.”
HEAR FROM THE STUDENT-ATHLETE
“It was exciting to get out on the field and feeling the support from my teammates. It was great to see my off-season work executed in the game. I am excited for the rest of the season.” – Loecker
“Starting my college career off with these girls by my side was great. I couldn’t have asked for a better defense behind me while I was pitching today.” – Adams
- Freshmen Pogue, Streff, Bennett, and Jackson all recorded their first career hits.
- Sophomore transfer Roman recorded her first hit and RBI as a Hawkeye.
- Adams threw a complete game shutout.
- Loecker recorded her second career save.
- Iowa has started the season 2-0 for the second straight season.
- Head Coach Renee Gillispie did not coach in game one on Friday due to a suspension from a previous NCAA rules violation.
The Hawkeyes take on No. 23 Mississippi State and host-FAU tomorrow at 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. (CT), respectively. Both games will be streamed on FloSports (subscription required).