Drake spoils Hawk's home-opener

BY JACK ROSSI | APRIL 03, 2014 5:00 AM

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In a cold and wet day at Pearl Field, the Drake Bulldogs left with a 5-3 victory over the softball Hawkeyes.

After Iowa (9-16) defeated Drake (8-22) 9-0 earlier this season, the Bulldogs got a win back to begin Iowa’s six-game home stand.

“Drake is a different ball club. We knew that coming into the game. They were struggling earlier. They had some youth and injuries that they were working through,” head coach Marla Looper said. “We’re a better ball club, too, and these in-state games are always tough because everybody wants to beat everybody.”

Freshman Shayla Starkenburg got the nod in the circle in her début at Pearl Field but fell behind in the count early and often. Both teams struggled in the circle and combined for 11 walks. Starkenburg was replaced in the third inning; in her 2.1 innings pitched, she gave up 4 walks and 3 earned runs.

Kayla Massey came in to replace her in the third inning, and she was prepared to carry the load. She gave up 1 earned run and struck out 5 in 4.2 innings.

“As a backup you’re supposed to be ready to pitch at any moment,” Massey said.

Starkenburg was not the only freshman to make her Iowa City début, and while Starkenburg may not have had the best game, Claire Fritsch collected 3 hits, scored 2 runs, and had an RBI.

“It was exciting [to finally play a home game]. Fritsch said. “Especially with the new scoreboard. It looked great, and I think we brought a lot of energy to this game.”

Overall, the game was frustrating for the Hawkeyes. However, Looper was happy that the team never gave up when it was down 4-0 in the third inning.

“We got 2 runs when they had 4,” she said. “At least we came back, and we didn’t tuck our tails. We continued to keep fighting, but unfortunately, we ran ourselves out of innings.”

Megan Blank finished the game with 2 RBIs. She continued her hot hitting after hitting .700 last weekend. Including the game on Wednesday, she extended her hitting streak to seven.

The Hawkeyes said they want to forget this game and they will with a quick turnaround when they begin a three-game series against Northwestern on Friday at Pearl Field.

“I expect Northwestern to hit well, run a lot and for us to score some runs, too,” Looper said. “They will put up 12 runs, but you’ll need to put up 13 to beat them. We’ve got to keep them in the park, keep the ball in the infield, and we stand a good chance against them.”

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