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Hawks upset No. 4 Michigan in Sunday's series finale

BY JORDAN HANSEN | MARCH 30, 2015 5:00 AM

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Two home runs in the sixth inning and a 2-RBI double in the seventh gave the Iowa softball team an upset victory over No. 4 Michigan on Sunday.

It was the finale of the three-game series. Iowa (11-26, 2-6) had tried to keep pace with Michigan (31-5, 5-1) but still fell, 6-0 and 7-4, in March 28’s double-header.

It didn’t seem as if that would change on Sunday; the Hawkeyes were looking up from a 4-0 hole they had dug themselves as they entered the sixth inning.

However, Megan Blank was able to get on base after four-straight balls, and catcher Holly Hoffman sent one over the fence for a two-run homer. Centerfielder Allie Wood then proceeded to hit a solo home run, and suddenly the Hawkeyes were only down a single run.

“They scrapped it out today,” Iowa head coach Marla Looper said. “They continued to believe in their ability to win, and they continued to make adjustments so they could get it done there at the end.”

Starting pitcher Shayla Starkenburg, who had taken the loss in the first game of the series and struggled at times during the third, kept the Wolverines scoreless in bottom of sixth to keep the Hawkeyes within striking distance.

“I started off a little rough in the first inning,” Starkenburg said in a release. “I had some walks there, but I knew that it was going to be important for me to let my defense work. Holly and I started to read through our notes and make adjustments on the mound so I could let the defense get the outs for me.”

The top of the Hawkeye order then loaded the bases, with only only one out. First basemen Kaitlyn Mullarkey, who had been 0-for-3 up to that point, proceeded to hit a double, scoring 2 runs and put the Hawkeyes up 5-4.

“I had to flush those first three at-bats,” Mullarkey said in a release. “They obviously didn’t go the way I wanted to, but when you come up in that type of situation, you can’t be focused on the past. I just did what I needed to do for the team.”

Understandably, Looper was full of praise for the sophomore team captain.

“She was clutch,” Looper said. “That last at-bat, unlike the other ones, she had a bit of ice in her veins. She wanted to help her team in anyway she could and hadn’t the last few chances. She’s a team player, so it’s hard for her to let her team down.

“She was going to go down swinging and she got good wood on it and was fortunate enough to keep it fair.”

Wood grounded out on the next at-bat, but outfielder Haley Hansel managed to cross home plate, pushing the score to the eventual final of 6-4.

The rubber match win over Michigan was Iowa’s second win over a ranked team this year, with the other being over then-No. 17 Central Florida on Feb. 27.

“It feels good,” Looper said. “Coming from behind and then being able to hold on to it, I’m proud of the girls. They’ve continued to get back at it and plug away. They continued to fight, and that’s what we have to keep doing.”

Follow @JordyHansen for news, updates, and analysis of the Iowa softball team.


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