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Wood steals the show on senior day

BY JORDAN HANSEN | MAY 04, 2015 5:00 AM

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After falling twice in the previous two games of the series, right fielder Allie Wood and the Iowa offense exploded on Senior Day for an 8-6 win over Northwestern.

Wood smacked 2 home runs — a grand slam in the bottom of the first and a 2-run shot in the third.

“I just was really focused on squaring up to the ball and producing runs for the team,” Wood said. “There was a fan in the stands that said, ‘You can do it,’ and that really just calmed me down.”

The grand slam was the first of her career and came after the Hawkeyes loaded the bases with three-straight walks to begin the game.

“Allie was really zeroed in today,” Iowa head coach Marla Looper said. “She even had herself down two strikes in that second one and continued to battle until she got something that she could square up.

“When she squared it up, it went out.”

Clearing the bases has been an issue for Hawkeyes over the weekend, as it was hitting just .171 in that situation during the May 1 and May 2 games. However, it hit .294 on Sunday with runners on, and it was a major reason they were able to grab the win.

“We had some clutch moments throughout that allowed us to keep scoring and not just get the 4 and sit and rest,” Looper said. “We’ve had runners on in the past; we just haven’t gotten that key hit, and we did today.”

Wood finished with 2 hits and 6 RBIs to lead Iowa in both categories. After a successful beginning to the season, Wood had cooled off and was hitting just .211.

Her performance gave the Hawkeyes some much-needed breathing room — the Wildcats scored 2 runs in the fifth and 2 runs in the sixth in a comeback attempt that ultimately failed.

“I’m so excited for her,” senior Megan Blank said. “I’ve seen what she can do in practice. To see her have this success is awesome.”

Blank, Iowa’s lone senior, left a mark on the last home game she’ll play at Pearl Field with two plays that perhaps epitomize her as a player.

The shortstop turned a double play in the top of the fourth and then sent a double to left field that scored a run in the bottom of the inning.

“I’m not like a flashy player by any means,” Blank said. “Playing — that’s just what it is — playing for me, no moments too big. I don’t take things lightly; every play I take as the same as the last, and I try not to make anything too big.”

Blank was honored throughout the game with video tributes from her teammates and a ceremony after the contest was over. She capped off the Senior Day festivities with a 1-for-2 performance that also saw her walk twice.

“I haven’t really wanted this day to come,” Blank said. “It’s crazy how fast it’s gone.”

She’ll still have at least one more game — the Hawkeyes found out that they’ll be the No. 10 seed in the Big Ten Tournament and will face No. 7 Rutgers.

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


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