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Hawkeye softball loses two of three to visiting Nebraska

BY NICK DELAQUILA | APRIL 08, 2013 5:00 AM

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The Iowa softball team continued its struggles, losing two of three to No. 19 Nebraska at Pearl Field this past weekend. With the defeats, Iowa fell to 22-15 on the season, 2-7 in Big Ten play.

Iowa’s offense continued to sputter against conference opponents — it managed to tally only 9 runs over the three games. In last weekend’s three games against the Wisconsin Badgers, Iowa scored only 2 runs.

After dominating Drake 18-0 on April 3, Iowa came back into conference play with a little bit of confidence. However, that didn’t bring along the wanted results.

“Nebraska is a very good ball club; our conference is tough, that’s all there is to it,” Iowa head coach Marla Looper said. “It doesn’t make coming out on the bottom end of the scoreboard any easier.”

On April 5, Iowa jumped on the Cornhuskers early by getting out to a 5-0 lead by the end of fifth inning. Iowa held off a late Nebraska threat, ultimately winning the game 6-2. The victory marked the Hawkeyes’ sixth win over a ranked opponent this season.

April 6, however, was an entirely different story. After nearly a two-hour rain delay, the Hawkeyes never regained their focus and ended up losing the game, 11-1, in five innings. Despite the struggles, Iowa players said they continue to remain confident.

“We’re definitely in these games; we know we are a good team,” shortstop Megan Blank said. “We have the confidence in ourselves that we can beat these teams.”

They proved just that in Sunday afternoon’s rubber match. Despite losing the game 3-2, Iowa showed that it is good enough to play with the best teams in the conference.

After four scoreless innings to begin the game, in which pitcher Kayla Massey retired 10-straight Nebraska hitters, the game was broken open by Nebraska’s leadoff hitter Kiki Sparks, who drilled a single to left to score the first 2 runs of the game.

Iowa tied the game back up in the bottom of the sixth. Blank stepped into the batter’s box facing a 2-0 count when she appeared to have been hit on her right elbow. However, the home-plate umpire did not see it that way.

Blank was not issued first base and was told to get back in the box. Next pitch, gone. Blank homered over the right-center field wall, her second of the series and seventh on the year, to knot the game at 2. Blank added to her Big Ten leading RBIs, bringing her total to 46 for the season.

The homer was all for nothing, however, as the Iowa defense committed two errors in the top half of the seventh inning, resulting in a 3-2 lead as Nebraska took the game and the series.

“We have to just keep fighting; we have to have faith in ourselves,” second basemen Bradi Wall said, “We are a great team; we are in every single one of these games.”


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