Iowa softball’s pitching struggles continue in losses to Northwestern

Iowa’s pitchers gave up 14 earned runs in Iowa’s two losses to Northwestern Saturday afternoon.


Grace Smith

Iowa pitcher, Lauren Shaw, pitches the ball during the Iowa softball game v. Northwestern at Pearl Field on Friday, April 16, 2021. The Wildcats defeated the Hawkeyes with a score of 7-0.

Chloe Peterson, Sports Reporter

Iowa softball’s pitching woes continued Saturday afternoon as the Hawkeyes dropped both games of a doubleheader against Northwestern.

Iowa’s three pitchers — seniors Allison Doocy, Lauren Shaw, and Sarah Lehman —  gave up 14 combined earned runs. The Hawkeyes lost the first game, 9-7, and the second game, 7-4. 

“We’ve got to work on being tougher, with not giving away big innings,” head coach Renee Gillispie said. “I mean, that’s what you saw in both games today.”

Doocy started for the Hawkeyes in the first game of the doubleheader, pitching a scoreless game until the top of the third inning, when Northwestern’s Maeve Nelson opened the scoring for the Wildcats with an RBI double. Doocy then gave up two home runs in a row, leading her to be replaced by Shaw. 

Shaw didn’t see any success, taking the loss for the second straight contest. While the Hawkeye defense committed errors behind her, Shaw allowed five runs — three of them earned — to seal the loss in the first game.

“I wish I knew [what happened with the errors],” Gillispie said. “[Senior Aralee] Bogar just had a rough time at second base. She had the one she laid out for, couldn’t get it out of her glove, and that would’ve been the third out to get us out of the [sixth] inning. And the second little overthrow over [freshman] Denali [Loecker’s] head… we can’t win with errors, and we know that, and she just didn’t have a great day today.”

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Gillispie thinks the errors got to Shaw’s head in the sixth.

“I thought the pitchers were doing a good job,” Gillispie said. “But when they get errors behind them, it’s kind of hard to come back from those errors, and that’s kind of what you saw, when we had an error and would have been out of the inning. Then we go four more batters after that, three more runs on the board. That will get to a pitcher. She wants to have a solid defense, and we just didn’t have the solid defense.”

Iowa’s pitchers also let Northwestern’s batters go deep into the count, allowing the Wildcats to become more comfortable at the plate throughout the game.

“When you see more pitches, then it’s easier to have at-bats,” Loecker said. “[Northwestern] had a lot of confidence in their at-bats, so we just need to keep attacking and make defensive plays behind them.”

Senior Sarah Lehman pitched a complete game for the Hawkeyes in the nightcap, but allowed seven runs to collect her sixth loss of the season.

The Wildcats strung together five hits for four runs in the third inning. The rally started with Lehman hitting Northwestern’s catcher, Jordyn Rudd, to put a runner on base.

It was more of the same in the sixth, as Lehman hit Northwestern’s left fielder Morgan Newport to bring in a run. Lehman then threw a wild pitch to plate another run, and the Wildcats fired off a single for the third run of the inning.

Iowa attempted a comeback effort in the bottom of the sixth inning, but only put four runs on the board.

“I think they were attacking early in the zone,” freshman catcher Marissa Peek said. “I just think our pitchers need to work a little bit more in the rivet, so they don’t get as hard of hits next game, but I think as they kept going they adjusted well.”

With the losses, the Hawkeyes fall to 14-13 on the season. Iowa finishes the series against Northwestern Sunday at noon. The game will be streamed on BTN+.

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