April 23, 2011
Site: Ann Arbor, Mich. (Wilpon Complex)
Scores: Iowa 4, #1 Michigan 2
Records: U-M (41-4, 9-2 Big Ten), Iowa (26-16, 8-3 Big Ten)
Next U-M Event: Sunday, April 24 -- vs. Iowa (Wilpon Complex), 2 p.m.
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The No. 1-ranked University of Michigan softball team could not overcome an early deficit in a 4-2 loss to Iowa on Saturday evening (April 23) in front of 2,371 fans at the Wilpon Complex, home of Alumni Field. The loss snapped the Wolverines' eight-game winning streak and is just their fourth defeat this season in 45 games.
Sophomore RHP Stephanie Speierman (Columbia, Md./Hammond HS) took the loss -- the first of her collegiate career -- with a nine-hit, two-walk effort from the circle. Speierman got better as the game wore on as five of her six strikeouts came in the final three innings, and after allowing a second-inning homer, she held the Hawkeyes to just one earned run.
The Wolverine hurler did not get necessary run support. Michigan left 10 runners stranded on base, squandering bases-loaded opportunities in the third and fourth innings. Freshman leftfielder Nicole Sappingfield (Norco, Calif./Norco HS) and junior third baseman Amanda Chidester (Allen Park, Mich./Cabrini HS) accounted for half of the Wolverines' eight hits, each hitting 2-for-4, while Sappingfield drove in both of Michigan's run on a two-run double in the third.
Iowa garnered the advantage it did not relinquish in the second inning when, three batters after a leadoff walk, Hawkeye leftfield Jenny Schuelke bombed out a full-count home run over the wall in deep centerfield. The Hawkeyes added an earned tally in the next inning on a one-out sacrifice fly to shallow leftfield. Sappingfield caught the ball on the run and immediately threw home to force a play at the plate, but freshman catcher Caitlin Blanchard (Petersburg,Mich./Summerfield) could not apply the tag in time.
The Wolverines cut the gap with Sappingfield's double in the bottom of the third. Freshman rightfielder Lyndsay Doyle (Channahon, Ill./Minooka Community HS) skipped a leadoff single up the middle and junior centerfield Bree Evans (Bloomington, Calif./Rialto HS) reached safely on an infield single to second to put two runners on with no outs. Both advanced on a subsequent wild pitch, and Sappingfield took advantage, driving the 2-2 pitch to the wall in right centerfield to send the duo across the plate.
Michigan continued to surge after the runs, using a subsequent single and a walk to load the bases with one out, but went down on strikes in back-to-back at-bats to end the threat. U-M loaded the bases again with two outs in the fourth, and the Hawkeyes' third baseman bobbled a Chidester chopper down the line but recovered in time to step on the bag and earn the frame's final out.
Iowa used four straight singles to score an insurance run early in the fifth. Hawkeye first baseman Stephanie Ochoa earned the run batted in on a bases-loaded high chopper over Chidester's glove. With the bases still loaded and no outs, Speierman worked herself out the jam with back-to-back strikeouts and a groundout back to the circle.
The Wolverines put a runner on in each of the final two innings but could not advance past second base.
Michigan will wrap up the two-game series against Iowa tomorrow (Sunday, April 24) at 2 p.m. at the Wilpon Complex, home of Alumni Field.
Contact: Leah Howard (734) 763-4423