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Softball buries Iowa State

BY AMIE KIEHN | APRIL 08, 2009 7:30 AM

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Iowa State can’t break Iowa junior Katie Brown.

During Brown’s three years, the first baseman has dropped three game-winning hits against the Cyclones, including Tuesday’s 7-1 smash over the in-state rival.

Brown’s pinch-hit, two-RBI double in 2007 pushed the Hawkeyes pass Iowa State, 2-1, in the Spirit Lake native’s initial Cy-Hawk series game. Last season on the road in Ames, Brown smashed a home run over right center field to lead the Hawkeyes to a 3-1 victory.

“I am sure for any of our in-state athletes there is always that extra little enthusiasm when you’re playing an in-state rival,” Iowa head coach Gayle Blevins said. “Katie has grown up with this series for a long time, so I am not the least bit surprised that she maybe brings a little bit extra energy for that day.

“At the same time, that’s Katie.”

After a scoreless three-inning stretch Tuesday, the Hawkeyes (30-9) needed something to happen to defeat the Cyclones (19-21). It was no coincidence Brown’s number was called.

Brown said she was collected at the plate in the fourth inning because she has been in pressure situations before. With the count at 2-2, her confidence level was steady as she waited for Iowa State’s Rachel Zabriskie’s next pitch.

“I knew I could hit her and that was just the main thing,” Brown said. “I knew I could hit her.”

SMACK.

The sound of ball on metal was exactly what Blevins expected.

“I know what I am going to get from Katie every day,” Blevins said. “Katie is going to give you her best effort every day.”

Brown hit a deep double to center field that broke the scoreless tie and started the Hawkeyes’ offensive surge. After the offense pulled a disappearing act in the double-header against Penn State last weekend, Blevins was pleased the Hawkeyes dominated.

“We were a lot more aggressive [Tuesday], our pitching was very good, and our defense was solid,” she said. “The difference was hitting [Tuesday]. [Against Penn State], we obviously struggled offensively — we pitched well [last] weekend, we were fine defensively, we just didn’t come up with quality at bats — so [Tuesday], a lot more offensive quality at bats.”

In the fifth inning, Iowa junior Taylor Leichsenring bunted, then circled the bases and scored on a throwing error by Iowa State’s Sydni Jones. Freshman Liz Watkins hit a two-run home run to right field that scored Sam Heinzman. The Hawkeyes scored two more runs, courtesy of Missy Mazur and Jenny Schuelke.

“I think it was nice seeing our offense come alive after the weekend,” Brown said.

Defensively, Iowa junior Amanda Zust nabbed three strikeouts in the game, going 61⁄3 innings.

Senior pitcher Brittany Weil relieved Zust in the final inning after the Cyclones loaded the bases and recorded the final two outs.

The Hawkeyes will begin a five-game road trip with a contest today at Western Illinois, with the first pitch scheduled for 4 p.m. From there, Iowa will return to conference play and face Purdue this weekend.


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