Iowa softball battles hard in 2-1 loss to No. 1 UCLA, earning day 1 split at Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic
Iowa defeats Bethune-Cookman 5-3 in game one
CATHEDRAL CITY, Calif. – The University of Iowa softball team defeated Bethune-Cookman, 5-3 in game one before falling to No. 1 UCLA, 2-1, in a hard-fought battle on day one of the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic.
Junior Denali Loecker did it all for the Hawkeyes in game one. She pitched a complete game with seven strikeouts, while also going 3-for-3 at the plate with a homerun, and three RBIs.
Four different Iowa hitters recorded multiple hits in the game.
Freshman Jalen Adams got the start in the circle against the Bruins and was masterful. She threw 6.0 innings allowing six hits and one earned run against one of the top offenses in the nation. Senior Nia Carter went 2-for-4 at the plate with a triple and scored Iowa’s only run.
Carter finished the day going 5-for-8 at the plate in two games.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Loecker got things going early for Iowa with a two-run home run in the top of the first. Bethune-Cookman was able to get runners on in the bottom of the first, but Loecker held strong and left them stranded to take Iowa’s, 2-0 lead into the second inning.
In the home half of the second, the Wildcats got two runners in scoring position, but they were stranded once again thanks to back-to-back strikeouts to end the inning. Freshman Avery Jackson came through for the Hawkeyes with her first career home run to give Iowa the lead, 4-0. Bethune-Cookman got one run back in the third to cut their deficit to three.
The Iowa bats were quiet through until the sixth as Carter reached on a bunt single. She was able to advance to second, and come around to score on an RBI single from Loecker to make it 5-1.
The Wildcats rallied in the seventh and were able to plate two runs on a single to cut Iowa’s lead to two. The Hawkeyes buckled down and got out of it to secure the win.
Iowa finished the game with five runs on 11 hits and three errors.
The Hawkeyes were swinging early, as Carter and Loecker both got one base in the opening frame. Iowa was unable to capitalize and left them stranded. The Bruins got back-to-back singles in the bottom of the inning, but Adams settled in and was able to strand the runners with the help of a double play started by Jackson to end the inning.
In the second inning, UCLA was able to load the bases with no outs, but another defensive gem by Jackson started a double play and prevented the Bruins from scoring. The red-hot Carter led off the third inning with a triple down the right-field line. Iowa struck first on an RBI ground out from freshman Tory Bennett to score Carter from third.
From there, both teams were battling trying to break the game open, but Adams was able to keep the Bruin bats quiet. In the home half of the fourth UCLA got a runner on, but a diving grab from Bennett in the five-six hole helped get the Hawkeyes to end the threat.
In the bottom the of fifth the Bruins were able to get two runners in scoring position after an error, a hit, and a ground out. UCLA evened the scored at one on a sacrifice fly to right field. Bennett led off the sixth inning with a single to left field which knocked former Hawkeye, Lauren Shaw, out of the game after just one inning pitched. Bennett was left stranded at first as we headed to the bottom of the sixth tied at one.
The Bruins took the lead, 2-1, on a leadoff homerun in the sixth inning. That would come to be the decisive winning run as UCLA came back to remain undefeated.
HEAR FROM HEAD COACH RENEE GILLISPIE
“What a game. It goes to show that if we play our game, we are right there with the best of them. If we stay focused and they play for each other, this is what happens. Jalen did an incredible job and for her, as a freshman, to be able to come out relaxed and focused she is the reason we were able to stay in that game.”
HEAR FROM THE STUDENT-ATHLETES
“After the first inning, I was able to settle in and it just felt like another game. This performance shows that we can hang around with anyone we face, and we will use it as motivation to get to where we want to be at the end of the season.” – Adams
“I am incredibly proud of our team. We went into this game with nothing to lose. We knew the odds were against us, but we were going to play our game of softball. In the end, UCLA got the win, but we see this as a win in our books and we have a chance to go far this year.” – Carter
“I went into the game confident, and I think it showed in my play tonight. I knew she (Adams) wanted it so badly, so me playing behind her I was going to get everything hit at me to help her out in the circle and help the team in anyway I could.” -Jackson
Loecker has four of the teams six homeruns on the season
Game one, was the first game of the year where Iowa hit multiple home runs.
Adams has allowed just one earned run in 25.1 innings (0.58 ERA)
Loecker has reached base in all 11 games this season, and has recorded a hit in 10 of the 11 games
The 2-1 loss to No. 1 UCLA was their first one-run win against a non-ranked opponent on the year
Iowa (7-4) returns to action tomorrow for day two of the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic. The Hawkeyes will face Cal-Berkeley and Cal State Northridge at 2:30 and 5 p.m. CT, respectively. Both games will be streamed on FloSoftball (subscription required).
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— Iowa Softball (@iowasoftball) February 25, 2023