Softball hopes to bounce back

BY JON LINDER | APRIL 07, 2009 7:30 AM

The 2008-09 Cy-Hawk Series will come to a close today when the Iowa softball team takes on Iowa State this evening at Pearl Field.

Iowa has already cemented a victory in the series by winning nine of the first 11 events, but the Hawkeyes can add two points to their current 19-4 lead with a win tonight.

Both teams come into the game with losing streaks after disappointing weekends in conference play.
Iowa State (19-20, 1-5) lost twice in Austin over the weekend to No. 25 Texas after dropping a game at Drake on April 2. The Cyclones are sitting in last place in the Big 12 after the weekend, but they have yet to play most of the lower tier teams in the conference.

Sophomore outfielder Carleigh Berry leads the Cyclones in batting average (.319), runs scored (28), and stolen bases (15). Junior Alex Johnson leads the team in RBIs (29) and home runs (4).

Iowa has dropped two in a row after starting the Big Ten season 3-1. The Hawkeyes lost two games to Penn State on April 4, both by one run. The Nittany Lions came into the weekend at 0-6 in the conference but used timely hits to capitalize on several uncharacteristic mistakes by Iowa.

“We’re not good enough to just show up [and win],” head coach Gayle Blevins said after the April 4 double-header. “There may be some programs out there that can do that, but we have to go out and compete hard every day that we step on the field.”

Some of the more frustrating plays against Penn State included a base-running error by junior Lindsey Digmann in the sixth inning of Game One, which ended the inning and helped the Nittany Lions take a 1-0 win. Iowa could not capitalize with runners in scoring position in Game Two. They stranded baserunners with regularity, and with one out in the bottom of the sixth, Rachel West was called out for leaving early on a steal attempt. She would have counted as the tying run three batters later when Chelsey Carmody’s single brought the Hawkeyes within 2-1.

Iowa’s usually solid pitching was also MIA on Saturday. Brittany Weil threw 11 strikeouts to move into first all-time in career strikeouts at 954 in the first game, but she also gave up five hits. Junior Amanda Zust, who boasts a 15-2 record on the year, allowed 10 hits in the second game.

“We didn’t come out with the fire that we should have [Saturday],” Weil said after the Penn State games. “It’s frustrating, but hopefully, we can bounce back on Tuesday.”

Rachel Zabriskie has a 5.20 ERA in Big 12 play after 331⁄3 innings pitched. Second option Charissa Carlin has been shelled in just 32⁄3 inning of work so far in conference play.

The high ERAs coming in likely have RBI leaders Colleen McGlaughlin and Liz Watkins ready to tee off. McGlaughlin leads the Big Ten with 34 RBIs, and Watkins sits in fourth with 28. Watkins also leads the team with six home runs after hitting two against Illinois April 1, one of which was a walk-off.

Despite an overall off weekend on the mound, Weil still sits in fourth in the Big Ten with a minuscule 1.10 ERA. Zust is currently in sixth with a 1.33 ERA.

After tonight’s game, Iowa will be on the road for five straight before coming home for two Big Ten games with Michigan State April 18 and 19.

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