Iowa softball's Blank does enough to tie rubber match, but didn't get a chance to win

BY CODY GOODWIN | APRIL 08, 2013 5:00 AM

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Nebraska’s Tatum Edwards lined up and tossed her 77th pitch a little too far to her left on Sunday afternoon. The ball appeared to nick Megan Blank right on her elbow. Blank backed out of the box, looked at the home-plate umpire, and pointed to where she was hit.

But the umpire didn’t award Blank a free pass to first. Iowa softball coach Marla Looper loosely argued. “I needed to argue it because it was true,” she said.

But the call stood. Blank smiled and stepped back into the batters box.

Blank sent the next pitch sailing over the right-field wall. The 2-run shot in the bottom of the sixth-inning tied Sunday’s softball game between Iowa and Nebraska at 2.

“She pretty much piped it,” Blank said. “I was just looking for a good pitch to drive. I remembered my previous at-bat, when she came pretty well over the plate. I had a feeling she’d do the same.”

The Culver City, Calif., native has been the offensive light for the Hawkeyes this season with a scorching .420 average. Blank also paces the conference with 46 RBIs through 37 games this season.

The Black and Gold shortstop’s seventh home run of the season was the only piece of offense that resulted in runs for the Hawkeyes on Sunday at Pearl Field. Of Iowa’s five hits, Blank had two.

But even that home run — which was seemingly done with a near-flawless swing — didn’t come easily.

“It wasn’t an easy pitch to get out of the park,” Looper said. “It should’ve been ball four, but Megan did a nice job of staying with it and just carried it out.”

Iowa and Nebraska combined for 8 hits over the seven innings, and there was a time when no player from either team reached base for 17 straight at-bats. The game, by most standards, was a pitching duel.

But Iowa, down 3-2 in the bottom of the seventh inning, had a chance to seize a victory. Second basemen Bradi Wall stepped up to the plate with two on and two out. With two strikes, Wall made contact and lined the ball towards Nebraska’s shortstop, Alicia Armstrong, who snatched it effortlessly.

“It felt great. It was good contact,” Wall said. “Unfortunately, I just hit it straight at her. I’ve been hitting it to that side all game, so they knew where to play me.”

The catch ended Iowa’s chances of winning Sunday’s rubber match. But even more, Wall’s out left Blank waiting in the batter’s circle.

Perhaps the game might’ve ended differently had Wall been able to reach base successfully because Iowa’s most dangerous hitter would have came to the plate.

“Oh, hands down,” Wall said.

Added Looper: “Would’ve, could’ve, should’ve. I like to think that if we had fielded the ball in the seventh inning and didn’t give up a run, we still would’ve won in the bottom of the seventh.

“With Blank coming up, I think we could’ve ended the game on a hit. We had good speed on the bases.”

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