Softball drops two against Penn State despite record pitching

BY MIKE SLUSARK | APRIL 06, 2009 7:30 AM

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Senior Brittany Weil pitched her way into the Iowa record books against Penn State Saturday afternoon with her 947th career strikeout, breaking the previous strikeout record set in 2005 by Lisa Birocci.

However, it was a bittersweet afternoon for the pitcher, because the Hawkeyes were swept in the double-header by Penn State at home, 1-0 and 2-1.

“I’ve not really thought about [the record] at all,” Weil said. “They told me last week I was close. It was just coming out there every day with a lot of focus and just doing what I have to do to help our team in any way.”

With the two losses, Iowa falls to 29-9 overall, 3-3 in conference play.

Penn State sophomore pitcher Jackie Hill got both wins after throwing two complete games for the Nittany Lions. She held Iowa scoreless on four hits and struck out six in the first game. Hill improved to 7-5 on the season with a 0.98 ERA.

Iowa head coach Gayle Blevins was frustrated with her team’s offensive play all afternoon.

“[Hill] threw 14 innings, and we just didn’t make any adjustments,” Blevins said. “When you see a pitcher that long, you’ve got to fully expect that your hitters are going to make some adjustments. She did a great job. We made her look like an All-American.”

Weil wasted no time tying the record, notching two strikeouts in the first, but the Nittany Lions were able to load the bases against the Hawkeye ace in the second. With two outs, a full count and the bases loaded, Weil sat down Penn State right fielder Christana Crivellaro to break the record and escape the inning without giving up a run. She finished the day with 11 strikeouts to set the record at 954 career strikeouts.

Penn State scored the lone run of the first game in the sixth inning with a two-out RBI base hit by designated player Lisa Akamine to score center fielder Sam Hovanec from second base. Hovanec stole second when Iowa shortstop Erin Riemersma dropped the throw from catcher Liz Watkins.
Junior pitcher Amanda Zust started the second game for Iowa and struggled early. The Nittany Lions loaded the bases in the first with one out. Zust battled back, striking out Akamine but surrendered an RBI single to catcher Danee Collett. Riemersma threw out Hovanec trying to score from second to end the inning with a 1-0 lead for Penn State.

Iowa tried to respond in the bottom of the first with a one-out infield base hit by right fielder Taylor Leichsenring. Colleen McGlaughlin followed with a base hit of her own to left. Liz Watkins smacked a single to center but Leichsenring was thrown out at the plate on a nice throw by Hovanec. Katie Brown grounded out to third to end the inning with no runs for the Hawkeyes.

Iowa threatened again in the third with a base hit by Lindsey Digmann, who advanced to second with heads-up base running and an error by Hovanec. Leichsenring moved Digmann to third with a sacrifice bunt. Hill escaped, though, getting McGlaughlin to pop out and striking out Watkins for the final out of the inning.

Collett struck again in the sixth with an RBI single to score Akamine from second and widen the score to 2-0 in favor of Penn State.

In the bottom of the sixth, Iowa put up its lone run of the day. Brown doubled to right field with two outs. Pinch-runner Callie Adreon came on for Brown and scored on a base hit by second baseman Chelsea Carmody to make the score, 2-1. The Hawkeyes were unable to score again, however, and dropped the second game to Penn State.

The Hawkeyes return to play 5 p.m. Tuesday at Pearl Field against Iowa State. The game marks the last competition between the two schools in the annual Cy-Hawk Series. Iowa is leading the series, having only lost to the Cyclones in volleyball and men’s cross-country this year.

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