The offense of the No. 19 Iowa Hawkeyes and the No. 22 Arizona State Sun Devils got the better of the Illinois State softball team on the first day of the Littlewood Classic in Tempe, Ariz., on Friday as the Redbirds fell to Iowa, 9-3, before bowing to Arizona State, 8-0, in six innings in the nightcap.
"Both teams definitely have powerful offenses and we weren't able to do anything to contain them," ISU head coach Melinda Fischer said. "We had way too many walks in the first game and overall the long ball really hurt us all day whether it was over the fence or in the gaps. I have to give credit to their offenses. Iowa had an answer for everything we put out there.
"We had really good at bats and hit ball hard, but ASU and Iowa made a lot of outstanding plays."
In the opener, Iowa took the lead in the second inning and never relinquished it. Erin Riemersma led off the inning with a double to left center. Following a popout, Riemersma moved to third on a passed ball. The ensuing batter, Jenna Spratt, reached on a bunt single as ISU held the runner at third. Spratt stole second and then both runners scored on Mindy Heidgerken's triple into the left field corner. Emily Nichols followed with a RBI double to right field, knocking Redbird starter Stacy Birk out of the game.
With freshman Amber Smith on in relief, Nichols advanced to third on a passed ball just before Smith walked the first batter she faced. Then Kylie Murray added a two-run double to right to give the Hawkeyes a 5-0 lead.
Swimmers tied for second
The ISU swimming and diving team is in third place after the second day of competition in the Missouri Valley Conference Championships at Carbondale.
The Redbirds have 492 points. Missouri State leads with 563 and Southern Illinois is second with 521.
Monique Witkowski, Brittany Armstrong, Lisa Hanrahan and Kyle Pullman earned a third-place finish in the 200-yard medley relay for ISU.
Hanrahan also earned a personal-best time and a fifth-place finish in the 100-yard butterfly (58.98). Also performing well in the 100-yard butterfly was Tracy Deyell with a fourth-place finish.
ISU gymnasts tumble
Illinois State's Cheryl Berezan won the balance beam Meaghan Koshman had a pair of personal bests in a 189.800-187.625 loss to Southeast Missouri State at Cape Girardeau, Mo.
Koshman recorded a score of 9.850 in the vault and 9.625 on the floor routine.n;
"I'm so proud of her," said ISU Coach Bob Conkling.n; "Although this was her best vault of the year, she can still do better.n;
A step at the end took her score down a little bit.n; I look forward to seeing her beat this record yet again this year."
Berezan won the beam with a score of 9.750, her high score of the season.n;
"We missed opportunities and didn't perform to our level," said Conkling.n; "We need to execute well not only during warmups, but in front of the judges."
Hourd, Fakehinde earn wins
In the last competition before the Missouri Valley Conference Championships, part of the Illinois State track and field team competed in the Friday Night Special held at Eastern Illinois.
Brittney Hourd, who will compete in the heptathlon at the state championships next weekend, highlighted the women's performances with a first-place finish in the 60-meter hurdles in 8.91, a season-best, and also had a strong effort in the shot put (37-01.00) which also was a season-best.
On the men's side, TJ Fakehinde won the high jump in a season-best jump of 6-08.00.
Head coach Elvis Forde was pleased with Hourd's performances, but felt his team could have competed better.
"We had a few average performances," said Forde. "I wasn't overly impressed by any of our athletes, but Brittney did an outstanding job winning the hurdles and throwing a personal-best in the shot put. What she did this weekend ranks her near the top three in the conference which is remarkable."
Many of the members of the team stayed at home to prepare and rest up before the conference championships, while other team members got one last chance to compete.