Redbirds Look to Snap Losing Skid Against Red-Hot Iowa
Shorstop Niki Stansell
Shorstop Niki Stansell

March 24, 2009

 ILLINOIS STATE (13-14) vs. NO. 24/RV IOWA (26-5) | NORMAL, ILL.
 Date  Wednesday, March 25
 Location

 Normal, Ill. | Marian Kneer Softball Stadium (1,000)

 Game Time
 5 p.m.
 Live Blog
 GoRedbirds.com (INTERACTIVE!)
 Radio  Play Audio WJBC.com
 Webcast  Video GoRedbirds.com/Redbird All-Access
 Live Stats
 GoRedbirds.com/GameTracker
 Game Info
 Photos ISU Game Notes | Iowa Game Notes | MVC Notes
The Illinois State softball team went through its worst week of play so far during the 2009 season last week, as it suffered four losses and scored just six runs against 17 by its opponents. Now, the Redbirds (13-14, 2-4 Missouri Valley Conference), will face one of their toughest slate of games this year, starting with a 5 p.m. non-conference game Wednesday against No. 24/RV Iowa (26-5, 0-0 Big Ten) at Marian Kneer Softball Stadium.

Live statistics, a live video stream and a live, interactive blog of Wednesday's Illinois State-Iowa game will be available on GoRedbirds.com.

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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