The Iowa softball team has had plenty of ups and a few downs so far this season. There was plenty of evidence of that on Monday when the Hawkeyes handed No. 11 Louisville its first home loss of the season before losing to Ball State.
Iowa lost to Ball State 7-5 in the day’s first game and then bounced back to beat 11th ranked Louisville, 6-2, in the nightcap. It was the fourth win over a top 25 team this year for the Hawkeyes (18-8).
Iowa has won nine of its last 12 games. Monday’s games were played at Ulmer Stadium on the campus of the University of Louisville. The win over the Cardinals snapped Louisville’s 11-game winning streak as well.
“We came out and we were aggressive in that second game,” said UI head coach Marla Looper. “We did a nice job of attacking early -- putting three runs up in the first inning. We put another three spot up in the sixth.”
Iowa got off to a hot start against Louisville in the second game, scoring three runs in its first at-bat. Johnnie Dowling began the frame with an infield single. A walk to Megan Blank ad a Holly Hoffman single loaded the bases for Kayla Massey, who drilled a deep shot off the fence to move all the runners up one base.
Brianna Luna and Michelle Zoeller both had back-to-back RBI singles to make the game 3-0, which was plenty of run support for Massey. The Hawkeye junior scored her fifth straight win and is now 8-4 on the year after allowing two first-inning runs and four hits en route to her 11th complete game in 12 starts.
“Kayla was pretty consistent, getting a lot of groundball outs,” said Looper. “We attacked the ball offensively and defensively, and that is how we earned the victory.”
Dowling had an RBI single and Blank collected a two-run double in the sixth inning as Iowa plated three more runs and made it 6-2. Hits in the inning also came from Luna and Bradi Wall.
Iowa chased Louisville starter Rachel LeCoq after a third of an inning. She allowed three earned runs on five hits to fall to 9-2.
Luna paced the Hawkeyes, tallying her first career three-hit game. The junior finished 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored. Dowling added her 10th multi-hit contest of the year, going 2-for-4 with an RBI and run scored. Blank extended her hitting streak to 11 games.
Iowa led 3-1 against Ball State in the first game following an RBI double by Massey and a two-run single by Blank in the third inning.
Ball State though responded though with three runs in the bottom of the third and regained the lead at 4-3. Another run in the fourth made it 5-3 in favor of the designated home team.
Iowa got as close at 5-4 and 6-5 but could not get over the hump each time. Ball State did just enough to secure the win.
Starter Chelsea Lyon took the loss. The senior tossed six innings, allowing seven runs (six earned) on 10 hits and six walks.
Blank posted her ninth multi-hit game and reached base in every at-bat, finishing 2-for-2 with two runs, two walks and two RBIs. Ashley Akers registered her second multi-hit game, going 2-for-3 with two runs.
“I am proud of how we turned it around,” said Looper. “We did not start the day off very well. We did a nice job of coming out and attacking Louisville in the second game. They are a quality ball club -- very well respected by us and everyone across the country.
“We have to focus on us, and that is exactly what we did. We were the aggressor.”