Softball drops first Big Ten game

BY MITCH SMITH | APRIL 12, 2010 7:30 AM

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The mood at Pearl Field shifted from excitement to disappointment on Sunday.

After defeating Purdue 1-0 on April 10 to move to 6-0 in Big Ten play, the Hawkeye bats were dead on Sunday as the squad dropped its first conference game of the season, losing, 2-0, to the Boilermakers in front of a crowd of 793.

Iowa (20-14-1, 6-1) struck out seven times and managed only four hits against Purdue pitcher Suzie Rzegocki. Sunday’s loss also marked only the sixth time in history that Purdue (17-21, 2-4) had defeated Iowa and the first time the Hawkeyes have been shut out this season since March 6 against Cal State-Bakersfield.

Senior Katie Brown said she was surprised by the team’s approach at the plate, and the sentiments were echoed by Iowa head coach Gayle Blevins.

“Our hitters guessed way too much today,” she said. “That was probably the big difference.”

Freshman pitcher Chelsea Lyon had another strong outing in the pitcher’s circle, allowing only three hits and two unearned runs over seven innings. But a bad second inning cost the Hawkeyes.

After a throwing error by Katie Keim and a sacrifice bunt, Lyon gave up a triple to Purdue’s Ashley Barr and a single by Shelby Krammer to plate two Boilermaker runs.

She shut down the Boilermakers consecutively in four of the following five innings, but the damage had been done.

But despite being disappointed after Sunday’s contest, the Hawkeyes don’t plan on being down for long.

“Right now, we just need to go home, shake it off, and come back hard in practice on Tuesday,” said junior Jenny Schuelke, who recorded one of Iowa’s three hits on Sunday. “We’re doing a great job. We just need to work on our aggressive attitudes.”

The loss puts Iowa in second in the Big Ten, just behind Michigan, which remains undefeated at 7-0 after a weekend sweep against Minnesota.

“We expected to be 7-0,” Blevins said. “It’s disappointing to have that one get away from us. That being said, we can’t do anything about it now. What’s most important is to get prepared for our Wednesday double-header.”

Iowa’s April 10 contest was similar to Sunday’s. But an exciting finish allowed the Hawkeyes to take the first game.

Strong defense kept the game scoreless until the sixth inning, when Katie Brown gave the Hawkeyes a 1-0 lead with a single up the middle that plated fellow senior Taylor Leichsenring.

The Boilermakers didn’t go away quietly in the final frame, though. After an error and a walk put runners on first and second, Purdue’s Liane Horiuchi doubled to center field.

Freshman center fielder Johnnie Dowling fired the ball to second baseman Lindsey Digmann, who threw home to nail the Boilermaker runner at the plate.

Hawkeye pitcher Amanda Zust shut the Boilers down after that, securing her 11th win of the season.
Iowa will hit the road on Wednesday with a double-header in Madison, Wis., against the Badgers.

“We play Wisconsin on Wednesday, and we’re going to beat them,” Lyon said.

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