ANN ARBOR, Mich — Iowa knocked off top-ranked Michigan 4-2 Saturday night at Alumni Field. The victory is the Hawkeyes’ first against a No. 1 ranked team since the 2005 season.
“The team did a nice job of coming out and jumping on them early and staying with them,” said UI head coach Marla Looper. “They had some chances where we could have sat on our heels and let them take control, but we did a good job of holding them, and Chelsea Lyon did an exceptional job in the circle.”
The Hawkeyes jumped on the Wolverines early, plating a pair of runs in the second inning. Liz Watkins led off the frame with a walk before being pinch run for by Jordan Goschie. After Goschie advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt and third on a wild pitch, senior Jenny Schuelke knocked her in with a two-run long ball to dead centerfield to give Iowa the 2-0 advantage. The round tripper was Schuelke’s second in as many games and her sixth jack of the season.
“Jenny came up and she’s been doing a nice job when she’s gotten deep into counts,” said Looper. “She put a nice swing on a good pitch and took it out of the park to give us that two run advantage.”
Iowa added to its lead in the third inning. Katie Keim laced a leadoff single down the left field line and moved to second on a fielding error by Nicole Sappingfield. After an Ashley Akers sacrifice bunt moved Keim to third, Chelsey Carmody lifted a shallow fly ball to left field, which was deep enough to knock in Keim on the sacrifice fly.
After stranding a pair of base runners in the second inning, Michigan put together a rally in the bottom of the third. Lyndsay Doyle and Bree Evans hit back-to-back singles to open the inning before Sappingfield laced a two-run double into the right centerfield gap to make the score 3-2.
Dorian Shaw followed with a double down the left field line, but Michigan didn’t score after Sappingfield hesitated when the ball ricocheted off Michelle Zoeller’s glove. After a Dorian Shaw walk loaded the bases with no outs, Lyon buckled down, getting a groundout and back-to-back strikeouts to end the Wolverine threat.
Michigan managed to load the bases again in the bottom of the fourth inning via a walk, single and hit by pitch. With two outs, Amanda Chidester ripped a hard grounder to Zoeller at third base. The freshman knocked it down, recovered and dove for third base, narrowly beating Sappingfield to third base for the force out.
The Hawkeyes had an opportunity to break the game open in the fifth inning. Keim, Akers and Carmody opened the inning with three straight singles to load the bases before Stephanie Ochoa notched Iowa’s fourth straight hit — an RBI single to left field.
Speierman, however, was able to avoid any more trouble in the inning, as she notched back-to-back strikeouts of Watkins and Johnnie Dowling before getting pinch hitter Brianna Luna to hit a come backer to end the inning.
That’s all Lyon needed, however, as the sophomore retired the Wolverines in order in the fifth before pitching around a leadoff walk in the 6th and a single in the 7th. Lyon, who improved to 14-10 on the year, scattered eight hits in the complete game, while using a devastating change-up to strike out seven Wolverine batters.
“Chelsea has really been working on that off speed and on some mechanical and mental things,” said Looper. “Tonight she had it between the ears and had it physically. When she can put those two things together and use that off speed pitch she’s deadly. We’ve got to get her consistently doing that, not just once in a while.”
Four Hawkeyes collected multi-hit games in the contest. Ochoa finished 3-for-4 with an RBI, while Keim (2-4, 2 runs), Carmody (2-3, 1 RBI) and Schuelke (1-2, 2 RBI, 1 run) each notched a pair of hits. Ochoa extended her hitting streak to 11 games, while Keim registered a hit in her seventh straight game.
Speierman (18-1) suffered her first loss of the season in the circle for Michigan, allowing four runs on nine hits in seven innings. The loss is the Wolverines’ fourth of the season, and it ended snapped their eight-game winning streak.
Iowa (26-16, 8-3) closes out the series against Michigan tomorrow afternoon at 1 p.m. (CT).
“It is a big win in the fact that we have another notch in the win column in conference, against the conference-leading team in Michigan,” said Looper. “We’ve got to enjoy it for 10-15 minutes and know it is business again tomorrow. They’re going to come out all guns firing and we’ve got to be ready to shoot back.”