Iowa softball loses series to Minnesota

The Hawkeyes won one of four games in Minneapolis.


Casey Stone

Iowa utility player Denali Loecker steps on the base to get Northwestern’s pitcher/utility player Morgan Newport out during the Iowa Softball game against Northwestern on April 17, 2021 at Bob Pearl Field. Northwestern defeated Iowa 7-4.

Isaac Goffin, Assistant Sports Editor

For the third weekend in a row, Iowa softball went 1-3, this time against No. 24 Minnesota in Minneapolis.

The Hawkeyes lost Friday’s game, 3-0, won the first Saturday game, 3-1, lost the second Saturday game, 5-4, and lost the Sunday finale, 9-4.

In the series opener, both team’s starting pitchers battled it out for the first innings as zero runs were put on the board. In the sixth inning, Iowa starting pitcher Sarah Lehman gave up three runs on a two-run home run and a double.

After pitching five-and-one-third innings, Lehman was replaced by Lauren Shaw, who gave up no runs on one hit.

“We just have to eliminate that big inning,” head coach Renee Gillispie said in a release. “That is the biggest thing that we are facing, we kind of let up a little bit. We can’t let up in a game, you have to stay on these teams. I thought Sarah did a fantastic job of keeping them off balance and getting her changeup in there to throw them off their timing. Third time through the lineup has been the toughest part for us, making sure you give them different looks as a pitcher.”

On the fielding side, the Hawkeyes made two great defensive plays. Center fielder Brylee Klosterman robbed on a home run in the first inning by making a catch against the wall. In the fifth, second baseman Amber DeSena made a diving catch to end the inning.

Iowa only mustered two hits in the game, with catcher Marissa Peek and third baseman Sammy Diaz each hitting doubles. Diaz’s double was the first of her career.

The Hawkeyes won their first game against the Golden Gophers since 2015 in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader.

Shaw pitched a complete game and gave up five hits.

“The defense was on fire today; they were making a lot of great plays,” Shaw said in a release. “We came out strong as an offense, and it was great that we stayed strong throughout the entire game.”

The Hawkeyes scored five unanswered runs in the game. First baseman Denali Loecker hit an RBI double in the fourth inning to tie the game. In the seventh, Klosterman hit an RBI single to give the Hawkeyes the lead. Loecker got another RBI in the inning, this time on a single.

Though the Hawkeyes scored three runs in the first inning of second doubleheader game via Loecker a three-run home run, they couldn’t stop the Golden Gophers from coming back and taking the lead in the fourth.

Starting pitcher Allison Doocy pitched two innings and gave up three runs, two of which were earned. Lehman pitched the four innings and gave up two unearned runs.

Iowa tried to rally late in the seventh, and the Hawkeyes did get a run, an RBI single from left fielder Riley Sheehy, but they ended the game on a ground out from Peek.

“In the second game we jumped on them quick,” Gillispie said. “Keeping Minnesota down is tough. They came back and tied it up. We had the opportunities, that is what we always talk about giving ourselves the opportunities in the seventh inning. We had the bases loaded with Marissa up, we have a lot of faith in her to come up with big hits, but today we came up just short.”

In Sunday’s game, Shaw started and gave up two runs off a home run in the first inning and finished her day after giving up four runs (three of them earned) in two innings of work. Lehman came in to relieve her and gave up five earned runs in two innings. Doocy was the Hawkeyes final pitcher of the day and gave one hit over two innings.

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On the hitting front, shortstop Grace Banes hit a two-run home run in the fourth, which was her first home run of her career. In the fifth, Klosterman scored on a ground out from Loecker, and she knocked in Diaz in the seventh with an RBI single.

Loecker had six RBIs on the weekend. Designated player Kalena Burns had her second three-hit game of the season Sunday.

Iowa (16-16) will play against Rutgers (7-25) in Piscataway, New Jersey, in another four-game series next weekend.