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Hawks fall in close game with Iowa State

BY JORDAN HANSEN | APRIL 16, 2015 5:00 AM

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With one out left in the game and Iowa trailing 5-4 to Iowa State (21-17, 1-5 Big 12), first basemen Kaitlyn Mullarkey was up with shortstop Megan Blank on first.

Mullarkey, who was hitting .311 coming into the game, seemed ready to display another bit of heroics.

Except she couldn’t. Iowa State’s Stacy Roggentien, who had dealt heat all day, got her 10th strikeout of the game, and the Cyclones celebrated in the dugout.

“It’s not a good feeling,” Mullarkey said. “But the game’s over.”

It was indeed over, but this one might sting a bit more than others Iowa (14-32, 5-9 Big Ten) has had this season.

Starting pitcher Shayla Starkenburg was dealing and tallied 7 strikeouts and just 2 earned runs. The game didn’t start out particularly well for her, but after the Cyclones scored 3 runs in the first inning — which were, in part, due to a fielding error — Iowa responded with 2 of its own.

“I think at the beginning of the game, we had a bit of trouble finding the zone,” catcher Holly Hoffman said. “But then she did settle down, and I was proud of her for that.”

In fact, the whole team seemed to settle down after the first inning. The Hawkeyes put up a single run in each of the next two innings, and they were tied with Iowa State at 4.

The Cyclones tacked on another run in the top of the fifth, but an Iowa 3-6-4 double play seemed to give the Hawkeyes a bit of momentum.

“It was a kind of a routine double play,” Mullarkey said. “Grounder, go to two. It’s something we’ve been doing well this year and something that we’re expected to do.”

However, that momentum was short-lived. Right fielder Erin Erickson flied out, Whitney Repole — who was pinch hitting for third basemen Sarah Kurtz — popped up, and just like that Iowa had two outs and no one on.

“We had some chances,” head coach Marla Looper said. “There were a few things throughout the game where we shot out own feet off, and we got to be better than that.”

The Hawks certainly did have some chances. They left seven runners on base and only managed 2 hits in the nine times they had runners in scoring position.

Those numbers aren’t exactly out of line with the rest of Iowa’s season, but in a rivalry game with state bragging rights on the line, they become huge.

“It means a lot,” Looper said. “It’s not just another team in the state, it’s the other big state school — that’s just the way it is. I know the girls wanted to come out and get it done, but unfortunately, there were times where they put a little pressure on themselves.”

That pressure ended up being their undoing.

While the team’s mantra this season has not been to dwell on the losses, but judging by Mullarkey’s demeanor after the game, they might take a little extra time to digest this one.

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


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