Home run lifts softball over Northwestern

BY IAN MARTIN | APRIL 08, 2010 7:30 AM

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The Iowa softball team snatched its second win against Northwestern in 12 games on Wednesday and now leads the Big Ten at 5-0.

But perhaps the most memorable aspect of Iowa’s 9-1 win over the Wildcats at Pearl Field was its incessant stops and starts.

Rain delayed the start of the game for an hour and 20 minutes and eventually canceled the second game of the double-header — which will not be made up. However not all stoppages were related to the weather.

In the top of the fifth, Iowa (19-13-1) had a 5-0 lead over Northwestern (16-14). Then a controversial play at first led to 10 more minutes without play.

Northwestern’s Kristin’s Scharkey appeared to hit a routine ground ball at Lyon, who threw to first baseman Katie Brown. But the play turned into an officiating nightmare after first-base umpire Andy Trent said Brown had bobbled the ball.

After deliberation — and the call being overturned numerous times — the Iowa defense was forced retake the field and play for one more out.

The next batter doubled Scharkey home, and the Wildcats got their only run of the game.

The beginning of the game went more smoothly, with the Hawkeyes’ first five runs coming without any disputes.

Iowa plated two runs in the first inning on a Katie Brown home run that carried over the right-field wall, aided by one of the many gusts of wind.

Shortstop Chelsey Carmody said the shot was the main reason the offense torched Northwestern after the first inning.

“We really came out and jumped on them,” she said. “[When] Katie Brown started it off with the home run, it motivated a lot of people to go out there and just hit.”

Iowa put up seven more runs in the ensuing five innings, eventually invoking the mercy rule after another rain delay in the bottom of the sixth.

The Hawkeyes scored three runs in the inning, two coming from wild pitches by Northwestern pitcher Lauren Delaney. The final RBI came on a double by Jenny Schuelke.

“Last year, we had a lot of trouble scoring on Delaney,” Iowa head coach Gayle Blevins said. “So for us to put nine runs up on her today is big.”

Pitcher Chelsea Lyon moved to a 9-6 mark on the year.

Defensively, the fielders prevented Lyon from losing control. The freshman said her mentality coming into the game was to not be distracted by the weather and delays.

But she noted it was hard to get adjusted to a cold softball in her hand.

“Being from Oklahoma, there’s crazy weather all the time,” she said. “So throughout that whole delay, I was just thinking that I need to go out there. I need to pitch my pitches and do the best I can.”

Lyon was spotty, giving up four hits and three walks before being replaced by Amanda Zust in the middle of the fifth frame. But Lyon managed to get out of her own jams, twice stranding numerous base runners.

Yet Lyon’s head coach seemed to acknowledge that off days are simply a part of the game.

“We tell our pitchers that some days you’re just not going to have your best stuff,” Blevins said. “And you have to battle with what you have. And she hung in there.”

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