Hawkeye softball surges to mercy rule on senior day

BY BEN ROSS | APRIL 30, 2012 6:30 AM

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The Iowa softball team emerged the victor of a three-game series against a Big Ten opponent for the third weekend in a row this past weekend, as the Black and Gold took two out of three from Indiana.

There was little scoring for either squad in each of the games on April 28; out of 16 total innings of play, runs were scored in only two.

The first game went extra innings. The Hoosiers then plated the lone run in the top of the ninth when Kelsey Brannon hit a go-ahead double to score Heather Nelson.

Iowa stared a scoring surge in the bottom of the fifth in the second game, when Johnnie Dowling hit a 3-run triple. Megan Blank then hit an RBI double to give the Hawkeyes a 4-0 lead that pitcher Chelsea Lyon defended for the rest of the game.

"I'm glad we put numerous runs up in one inning, but unfortunately, we didn't score any in the first [11]," head Iowa softball coach Marla Looper said. "It took us quite a few innings to score, and that's pretty frustrating when we had numerous opportunities."

Iowa had no problem putting up runs on Sunday.

Blank hit an RBI double in the bottom of the first inning to plate Dowling. Senior captain Katie Keim then stepped up to the plate with one on and no outs.

She launched a 1-1 pitch from Indiana's Meaghan Murphy over the right-field wall to record the final Pearl Field home run of her career. It was Keim's team-leading eighth jack of the season, and she has doubled her home run total from all of last season.

The scoring didn't end there.

Senior Liz Watkins hit an RBI single to kick off a 4-run third inning. Melanie Gladden then stepped up to the plate and hit a line drive to left to score Keim home. Right fielder Mallorree Grove then hit a double to left center, bringing in Watkins and Gladden.

Megan Blank scored on a throwing error to start the fourth, as designated player Michelle Zoeller doubled to deep right to send the final two runs of the game in.

The Hawkeyes never went back up to bat; the game ended in the top of fifth because of softball's 8-run rule.

"I think we learned from yesterday," Keim said in describing her squad's offensive surge. "I think we were hitting the ball well; it just wasn't going through. Today, we went through them and won the series."

Fellow captain Watkins said she thinks the last home game of the season helped spur all the scoring but noted that the season isn't over; her squad still has work to do.

"I think just the mindset of everybody — 'It's our Senior Day, and we're going to go out and do anything we can possibly do for Katie and me,' " Watkins said. "However, our season is not over.

Being able to go out and whomp on Indiana, we're going to carry it over to the next couple weekends.

"We came out, and we were scoring runs and playing great defense — that's exactly how I wanted to play my last game at Pearl."

Follow DI softball reporter Ben Ross on Twitter.

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