Softball has weekend of records

BY JON LINDER | MAY 11, 2009 7:28 AM

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May 9 was a historic day for the Iowa softball team, reaching a bevy of milestones during a sweep of a season-ending doubleheader with Minnesota.

Head coach Gayle Blevins moved into sole possession of second place on the all-time victory list for NCAA Division-I softball coaches with Iowa’s 2-0 win in Game One. Blevins moved past former Florida State head coach JoAnne Graf, who collected 1,218 wins in 24 years of coaching. Blevins’ 1,220 wins now rank second only to current Fresno State head coach Margie Wright, who had 1,340 wins entering the weekend.

“I’m very fortunate to be at Iowa,” Blevins said. “It couldn’t be a better … culture and environment for me personally, and that’s why I’ve chosen to stay here. I just think it’s a wonderful place.”

Pitcher Brittany Weil broke or tied four records on the afternoon. The senior from Garden Grove, Calif., broke the single-season strikeout record in the top of the fourth inning in the first game May 9. Weil tied all-time wins leader Debbie Bilbao (99) and all-time complete games leader Karen Jackson (109) after taking two complete game wins from the Gophers on May 9. Weil also tied Bilbao’s record for total games pitched (181). Bilbao played at Iowa from 1995-1998.

Weil flexed her resolve in the top of the fourth in Game One, surrendering two walks and a single to load bases after striking out the first two Gopher batters. Weil then struck out Minnesota’s lead-off batter, Colleen Conway, ending the scare and stranding three baserunners.

Iowa’s Katie Brown started the scoring for Iowa in the bottom of the second inning with a solo home run to right-center field. Brown extended the lead two innings later with another solo shot, this time pushing a ball over the fence in left field against a driving wind. Freshman Katie Keim had the only other hit for the Hawkeyes in the first game, a bloop single to center field in the bottom of the fifth.
“I think [these last four wins] gave us a lot of confidence,” Brown said. “Also, the [NCAA Selection Committee] looks at us and says, ‘Hey, they’re coming on strong right now.’ ”

Weil’s pitching prowess was on display again in Game Two, taking a perfect game into the fifth inning before walking Minnesota’s Katie Dalen with two outs. Minnesota pinch-runner Chonquita Jones was then thrown out by freshman catcher Liz Watkins while stealing second to end the inning and preserve Weil’s bid for a sixth no-hitter. Weil gave up two hits in the top of the seventh, but ended the game and sealed the shutout, a 3-0 Iowa victory by striking out Malisa Barnes.

“Today, we came out really focused and determined to take a step toward the postseason,” Weil said. “We did that today.”

The Hawkeyes scored all three runs in a furious third inning. Keim started the inning with a lead-off double, followed by a pair of infield singles by senior Sam Heinzman and sophomore Chelsey Carmody. Keim then came home on a wild pitch by Hassett to plate Iowa’s first run.

Iowa picked up its second and third runs when Brown sent a slow rolling ball into the infield.

Heinzman was tagged at home, but was called safe because of a catcher obstruction call. Brown then headed for second to put on a squeeze play that brought Carmody home to put Iowa ahead 3-0.
The Hawkeyes now have their sights set on the 2009 NCAA softball championship. Iowa learned Sunday evening it will play in the Atlanta Regional on May 15 against Auburn (29-27). Joining the Hawkeyes and Tigers in Atlanta will be Georgia Tech (41-13) the tourney’s 14th overall seed, and Boston University (41-16).

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