Redbirds Look to Snap Losing Skid Against Red-Hot Iowa
March 24, 2009
The Redbirds enter the non-conference game against the Hawkeyes riding a season-long five-game losing streak that started March 15 with a 2-0, extra-inning loss to Bradley. Illinois State went 0-4 last week, following losses to Illinois (11-3) and Creighton (3-2, 1-0, 2-1).
Iowa, on the other hand, has been on a roll of late. The Hawkeyes jumped into the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll this week at the No. 24 spot after increasing their season-long winning streak to nine games. That streak dates back to an 11-3, five-inning win over Cornell March 14.
During the streak, Iowa has hit .351 as a team and has a 0.68 ERA. The Hawkeyes are led at the plate by Colleen McLaughlin's .354 batting average, which includes team-highs in doubles (8) and RBI (29).
As a team, Iowa is batting .295 on the season, compared to just a .141 average by opponents. In the circle, Iowa boasts a pair of stellar pitchers in Brittany Weil and Amanda Zust. Weil is 13-4 with a 1.00 ERA and has allowed just 17 earned runs over 118.2 innings pitched. Zust is equally masterful, with a 13-1 mark and a 1.12 ERA.
Wednesday's game between Illinois State and Iowa will feature two of the winningest coaches in NCAA Division I softball history. Iowa's Gayle Blevins owns a 904-406-3 career coaching record at Iowa, and has over 1,200 career wins to her name, which places her as the third-winningest coach in NCAA Division I history. Illinois State's Melinda Fischer owns 797 career victories entering Tuesday's game, which ranks as the 43rd-most in NCAA Division I history.
Iowa will mark the third ranked opponent Illinois State has faced this season. The Redbirds are 0-2 in 2009 against ranked foes, following a 3-0 shutout to then-No. 3 Arizona State Feb. 13, and a 5-0 loss to then-No. 20 Ohio State Feb. 28.
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