Denali Loecker’s go-ahead home run pushes Iowa softball past Drake

The sophomore put the ball over the fence in the bottom of the sixth inning to give the Hawkeyes a 3-2 victory over the Bulldogs.


Grace Smith

Iowa pitcher Denali Loecker swings a bat during a softball game between Iowa and Drake at Pearl Field in Iowa City, Iowa, on Wednesday, April 6, 2022. Loecker scored a home run in the sixth inning to put Iowa in the lead. The Hawkeyes defeated the Bulldogs, 3-2.

Dawson Moore, Sports Reporter

When Iowa and Drake softball were tied at two runs apiece in the bottom of the sixth inning at Bob Pearl Field, sophomore Denali Loecker swung at the ball in a full count.

Loecker’s swing turned out to be the go-ahead solo home run, giving the Hawkeyes a 3-2 victory over the Bulldogs. Iowa’s victory on Wednesday afternoon was its first since beating Sam Houston State on March 19 in Oklahoma City.

“I think I was just seeing the ball well, so I was just like, ‘I am going to hit the ball as hard as I can,’” Loecker said.” I mean, we were tied at that point. So I was just like, ‘I’m just gonna put it in play and see what I can do.’ I felt confident because I had been seeing the ball pretty well.”

Loecker, a second-team All-Big Ten selection in 2021, has hit five home runs this season. Her total is tied with freshman catcher Tristin Doster.

Big Picture

The Hawkeyes are now one game over .500 with an overall record of 17-16 on the 2022 campaign.

Iowa is still winless in conference play this season as it posts a Big Ten record of 0-6. The Hawkeyes are currently last in the conference standings.

Solid Bats

Iowa’s bats came to life against Drake, as the Hawkeyes finished with seven hits on Wednesday night. Junior infielder Nia Carter went 2-for-2 at the plate.

Doster knocked in one run with a double in the bottom of the first inning.

“We saw a lot of production from so many,” head coach Renne Gillipsie said. “We look at Nia, she had two good hits today and a double, being able to get things started for us … Of course, Denali’s home run was the switch.”

What’s Next

Iowa will now host Minnesota this weekend for the Hawkeyes’ third Big Ten series of the 2022 season. 

The Golden Gophers have an overall mark of 16-14-1 in 2022. They have a conference record of 3-3 after dropping a series to Illinois last weekend.

In 2021, Minnesota took three of four games from Iowa.

“We’re excited about all the production we’re getting out there right now with the players, and we just have to build on it,” Gillispie said. “That’s the biggest thing with Minnesota coming this weekend.”

Iowa and Minnesota will play at Bob Pearl Field on Friday at 5 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m., and Sunday at noon. All games will be streamed on BTN+.