Iowa softball offense loses momentum, Hawkeyes split doubleheader with Illinois

While the Hawkeyes notched 11 hits in the first game against Illinois, Iowa only had five hits in the second game of the doubleheader.


Jerod Ringwald

Iowa right fielder Nia Carter connects with a ball for a hit during a softball game between Iowa and Illinois on Saturday, May 15, 2021, at Pearl Field. The Hawkeyes defeated the Fighting Illini 7-2.

Chloe Peterson, Sports Reporter

It was a hot-and-cold day for the Iowa softball offense at the plate on Saturday, as the Hawkeyes split their final doubleheader of the season with Illinois.

Iowa won the first game, 7-2, and dropped the second, 9-1.

The Hawkeyes came out swinging on Saturday afternoon, hanging 11 hits on the Fighting Illini in the first game of the day.

In the 7-2 win, the Fighting Illini scored twice before Iowa got on the board. But that didn’t faze the Hawkeyes, as Iowa scored seven unanswered runs over the next four innings.

“The first game, you could tell they had all the energy,” Hawkeye head coach Renee Gillispie said. “And they were really focused on what they needed to do. They understand that it’s in their hands right now, and they came out and they came ready… everybody, one through nine, was getting those hits,”

In her final days as a Hawkeye, senior Aralee Bogar went 3-for-3 in the first game, picking up a triple and an RBI single.

“It was a really great feeling as a senior, knowing these are my last couple games at Pearl [Field],” Bogar said. “I was just trying to fight each pitch and try to make an impact for my team with the little time I have left.”

Bogar is one of seven Hawkeye seniors being honored this weekend at Pearl Field — senior pitchers Lauren Shaw, Sarah Lehman, and Allison Doocy are playing their final games on the Pearl Field mound. Position players DoniRae Mayhew, Avery Guy, and Ashley Hamilton will also be honored in senior celebrations Sunday.

Sophomore Nia Carter found her groove Saturday, going 2-for-4 with four RBIs in the first game — including a bases-clearing RBI triple in the bottom of the sixth inning.

“It felt good, and I’m starting to feel my swing again,” Carter said. “I knew pretty much what pitch was going to come from previous at-bats, and we all started to attack as a whole at the end, and strung along some hits and got that win.”

But after a 30-minute break from the action — and some food in their stomachs — the Hawkeyes lost the momentum they found in the first game.

Iowa had just five hits in the second game of the doubleheader, with junior Riley Sheehy notching an RBI double to score freshman Amber DeSena for Iowa’s only run of the game.

“You could definitely feel [the momentum shift,]” Gillispie said. “The 30 minutes in between the games is tough. We feed them, and you start having all the energy going to your stomach to digest your food — we talk all the time about, ‘Maybe we shouldn’t feed you in between doubleheaders,’ because it just seems like that’s the energy that we have after we have lunch. We just need to focus on how we get back, how we get that energy back.”

After the Saturday games, the Hawkeyes now sit at 24-18 going into their last game of the season — Iowa’s series finale against Illinois starts at 3 p.m. Sunday and will be aired on Big Ten Network.

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