Iowa wins 2023 National Invitational Softball Championships
FORT COLLINS, Colo. — The University of Iowa softball team won the 2023 National Invitational Softball Championships (NISC) on Saturday at the Triple Crown Sports facility. The Hawkeyes defeated Maryland, 4-3, in the semifinals before beating BYU, 9-7, in the championship game.
Trailing by three runs (7-4) in the top of the seventh of the championship game, Iowa rallied for five runs, all with two outs, to reclaim the lead over BYU and ultimately prevail.
Freshman Jalen Adams picked up two wins on the day. In the semifinal she went five innings allowing no runs on two hits and striking out two. In the championship, she threw five innings allowing six runs (four earned) on seven hits and had two strikeouts.
Juniors Grace Banes and Brylee Klosterman provided the power in the championship game. Banes went 2-for-4 with two home runs and Klosterman went 2-for-3 with a home run. The Hawkeyes completed a seventh inning comeback with the help of pinch-hit RBIs from sophomore Tristin Doster and freshman Anna Streff.
In the semifinals, junior Denali Loecker went 3-for-4 at the plate with three RBIs. Senior Nia Carter and freshman Skylinn Pogue each notched two hits in the contest as well.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Banes continued to swing a hot bat as she hit a solo shot to left field in the second inning to give Iowa the early lead. One the defensive side, Banes recorded the first four putouts of the game at second base. BYU was able to get runners on the corners with one out in the bottom of the second. The Cougars tied the game on a sac fly.
Carter reached in the third with a one-out infield single. Sophomore Tatianna Roman and freshman Tory Bennett followed that with a walk and hit-by-pitch, respectively, to load the bases. Iowa was unable to capitalize as they left the bases loaded. Adams entered the circle in the bottom of the frame and retired BYU in order.
Klosterman gave Iowa the lead back on a two-run home run in the fourth to make it, 3-1. In the fifth, Banes went deep to for the second time to extend the Iowa advantage to three. The Cougars tied the game at four on a three-run home run to straight away center in the home half of the fifth.
BYU had its first two batters reach on singles to start the bottom of the sixth inning. Both came around to score on a throwing error by Iowa as the Cougars took the lead, 6-4. BYU extended its lead to three on an RBI single. The Cougars left the bases loaded to end the sixth.
Junior Sammy Diaz drew a two-out walk in the top of the seventh and Klosterman followed that up with a single to left field. Doster had a pinch hit double to get Iowa within one. With the Hawkeyes down to their last strike, Streff powered a pinch-hit RBI triple off the right field wall to tie the game. Roman gave the Hawkeyes the lead on an infield single to score Carter from third. Iowa tacked on an insurance run stretching its lead to 9-7.
Adams was able to retire the Cougars in the bottom of the seventh to preserve the victory for the Hawkeyes.
The Hawkeyes were able to get runners on the corners with one out in the top of the first but were unable to get a run on the board to start the game. Adams retired the Terrapins in order in the bottom of the first inning. Maryland had its first two runners reach base to start the home half of the second, but Adams induced three ground outs to get out of the frame without any damage.
Loecker gave the Hawkeyes the lead with a solo shot to start the fourth inning. The Hawkeyes got their bats going in the fifth as they loaded the bases with one out. Loecker drove in a pair of runs with an RBI single up the middle to extend the Iowa lead to three. Banes picked up her fifth RBI of the weekend on a sac fly to give the Hawkeyes a 4-0 edge heading into the bottom of the fifth.
Loecker entered the game in relief to start the sixth inning and went three-up, three-down. Maryland was able to get runners on second and third with no outs to starts the bottom of the seventh. They scored their first run on a sac fly. The Terrapins were able to cut the Iowa advantage to two on a two-out RBI double. Another Maryland run came home on an Iowa throwing error to make it 4-3. Loecker got a strikeout to end the Maryland rally and send the Hawkeyes to the NISC championship.
HEAR FROM HEAD COACH RENEE GILLISPIE
“What a way to end the season. I am so proud of the fight we showed in the game. We were down to our final out and we did not give up. We had some extremely clutch hits throughout the game from starters and off the bench. We have a lot to be proud of after this tournament and we are excited to be bringing the trophy back to Iowa.”
HEAR FROM THE STUDENT-ATHLETES
“It’s difficult to come back in the last inning of the game, let alone with two outs. I can’t express how proud of how we were able to finish the season. This weekend we showed that we are ready for to compete next year and make it to the NCAA tournament.” – Banes
“Winning the NISC shows everyone how much Iowa softball has to offer. We have grown so much this season and I am so proud of my team. I can’t wait to see what is to come for the Hawkeyes in years to come.” – Adams
We had an INTENSE championship game today! Three hours, two comebacks from two different teams, high adrenaline, and a close game. Congratulations to @iowasoftball! 🙌🙌 pic.twitter.com/P5iyTfWiy6
— Postseason NISC (@WomensNISC) May 21, 2023
- Iowa finished the 2023 season with a 35-27 record.
- Banes was named tournament MVP.
- Adams, Loecker and Carter were named to the all-tournament team.
- Carter is the second Big Ten player ever to reach 100 hits in a season.
- Carter ranks seventh all-time for career hits at Iowa (237).
- Loecker is now tied for fifth all-time for home runs at Iowa (24).