Hawkeye softball splits doubleheader with Nebraska

Iowa softball took advantage of defensive mistakes by Nebraska on Wednesday night, and the teams split a doubleheader at Pearl Field.

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Hawkeye softball splits doubleheader with Nebraska

Iowa utility player Sarah Lehman catches a ground ball during the game against Nebraska at the Bob Pearl Softball Field on Wednesday, April 24, 2019.

Iowa utility player Sarah Lehman catches a ground ball during the game against Nebraska at the Bob Pearl Softball Field on Wednesday, April 24, 2019.

Roman Slabach

Iowa utility player Sarah Lehman catches a ground ball during the game against Nebraska at the Bob Pearl Softball Field on Wednesday, April 24, 2019.

Roman Slabach

Roman Slabach

Iowa utility player Sarah Lehman catches a ground ball during the game against Nebraska at the Bob Pearl Softball Field on Wednesday, April 24, 2019.

Pete Mills, Assistant Sports Editor

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It’s not easy to rebound and win the second game of a doubleheader, but Iowa softball played cleanly and took care of business to split with Nebraska on Wednesday at Pearl Field.

Rough play from Nebraska on the defensive end was pervasive throughout both games, and it eventually came back to pester it enough to help Iowa bring home a 3-1 win in Game 2.

Iowa fought hard in the first game, highlighted by a 4-run fourth inning. But Nebraska capitalized on Iowa’s young pitcher, Sarah Lehman, and took a 7-5 win.

Lehman gave her team a solid couple innings, holding the Huskers scoreless in the first two. Her progression this season has been good, and having a solid midweek pitcher for head coach Renee Gillispie to rely on was important for Game 2, because it set up the Hawkeyes to win with ace pitcher Allison Doocy in the circle.

“[Lehman is] really stepping up right now, she’s doing a great job,” Gillispie said. “Her motivation and energy, and understanding what she has to do, have really been stepping up. To get her to be able to go five innings in that first game — it’s great to have two pitchers we can rely on.”

That led to a pitcher’s duel in the latter of the two games, with Doocy facing Nebraska ace Lindsey Walljasper. The game began with four scoreless innings on both sides, but Nebraska opened it up in the fifth to take a 1-run lead over Iowa.

A dramatic half-inning in the bottom of the fifth pushed the Hawkeyes to take care of business. The team took advantage of a flurry of Nebraska errors — despite being outpaced in hits by Nebraska in Game 2, Iowa went on to take a 3-1 win.

“Honestly, after the last game — it was really close, and we were in that — so we were fighting,” said freshman Cameron Cecil, who notched 4 hits in the two games. “I think coming back out in this second game, we still had that fight with us. We really wanted to get this second one for sure.”

That fifth inning began in rough fashion for the Huskers — right fielder Alyvia Simmons lost control of a routine fly ball in right field, allowing Iowa’s Alex Rath to score the Hawkeyes’ first run of the game. Shortly after, more defensive trouble — this time in the infield — helped Havyn Monteer reach second and punch in Hamilton on a controversial call at home plate.

Those errors were accentuated by clean play on the defensive side for the Hawkeyes. At the top of this effort was catcher Abby Lien, who had a day at home plate. The freshman threw out two would-be stealers at second base.

Converting on those opportunities was huge, Gillispie said, especially on the offensive end. It’s something the team has been waiting for all season, and it finally came to fruition in the win on Wednesday night.

“It’s been tough; we haven’t been taking advantage of [mistakes] all season long,” Gillispie said. “To have an opportunity to take advantage of mistakes like that was huge. Being able to put some pressure on the defense to begin with slappers, and to challenge the left side of the field in the second game … Just seeing the little things, and the was they’re fighting through this game was huge.”

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