Iowa softball's Wall bears the brunt of pitchers' fury

BY CODY GOODWIN | MAY 02, 2013 5:00 AM

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Bradi Wall nestled into the batter’s box with a runner on in the bottom of the fifth-inning. Iowa State had collected two outs, but Iowa held a four run lead. She was focused on reaching base — maybe even driving in a run, if the pitch was right.

Cyclone pitcher Tori Torrescano began her throwing motion. She wound up, took a step and let the ball fly. The ball veered a bit too much inside — so much that it plunked Wall high on her right side.

The Hawkeye strolled down the first-base line as the crowd groaned for her. It was the 27th time this season that Wall had reached base after being hit by a pitch.

“There’s definitely bruises,” Wall said with a laugh after Iowa’s 8-3 win over the Cyclones Wednesday night. “But they aren’t that bad.”

The 27 pitches that have hit Wall this season lead the Big Ten by far. Nebraska’s Taylor Edwards, who holds the second-place spot in that category, has been plunked just 13 times this season.

Even more, Wall’s count of 27 pitches that have beaned her this season is currently the second-most in the nation. The only player in the country to have been hit by more pitches this season is Houston’s Kendra Cullum, who’s reached first-base after being hit 30 times this season.

But Wall said the amount of pitches she’s come into contact with this season is just another advantage to the offense. She reaches base, which is exactly what Iowa softball coach Marla Looper asks of her lineup’s first two hitters — senior Johnnie Dowling hits in the leadoff spot before Wall.

“It’s definitely been a new experience,” she said of being hit so many times. “But it’s part of the way my at-bat is. My goal is to get on base … if that takes me getting hit by a pitch, then I’ll do it for the team.”

More runners on base allows for more scoring opportunities for the Iowa offense. It becomes even more crucial for Wall to reach base — whether it be by getting a hit, or getting hit — with Black and Gold slugger Megan Blank coming to bat immediately after.

Looper expressed that, because of Blank’s numbers — the sophomore is currently hitting .448 and has tallied 58 RBIs so far this spring — it’s important for both of Iowa’s first two batters to reach base early in a game.

It just so happens the leadoff hitters for the Black and Gold, Dowling and Wall, have on-base percentages of .420 and .424, respectively. Those are two of the top three in the Iowa lineup.

“[Wall]’s going to do anything that’s going to help her team,” Looper said. “If she gets herself on base because if we can get on, we can score more than one run. She does it for the team.”

But even then, Wall’s teammates have been surprised, too, at the amount of plunks Wall has garnered this season. It has, without a doubt, solidified the notion that Wall is tougher than any fastball a pitcher may hurl.

“I’ve never seen somebody just be able to stand in there and take so many hits like that,” third-basemen Michelle Zoeller said. “She’s a champ.”

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