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5-Run 7th Lifts Redbirds Past Iowa

TEMPE, Ariz. — A five run top of the seventh inning lifted Illinois State to a 7-3 victory over the University of Iowa softball team Friday afternoon in its Littlewood Classic opener.

With the score tied at two, the Redbirds erupted for five unearned runs in the top of the seventh to take a 7-2 advantage.  Caiti Kopp delivered the big hit in the inning with a bases-clearing double into the left centerfield gap.

“The game is a game of chances,” said UI head coach Marla Looper.  “Unfortunately Brianna (Luna) didn’t make the catch (to start the seventh), but we still have a runner at second, and we can still get out of that inning without scoring like we did earlier in the game.

“We have to stop the snow ball.  This game, we didn’t stop the snow ball.”

Iowa got one run back in its final at-bat.  Junior Johnnie Dowling reached via a one-out single up the middle before freshman Megan Blank doubled to right center to cut the deficit to four.

The Hawkeyes jumped out to a 2-0 lead, scoring in each of the first two innings. After Blank walked to open the game, the freshman moved to second base on a wild pitch and scored on a Katie Keim double down the right field line.

In the second, sophomore Brianna Luna reached on a hit by pitch to open the frame before stealing second base to move into scoring position.  Dowling drove her in with an RBI single to left field.

Iowa put two runners on base in the bottom of the third inning, but Redbird pitcher Jordan Birch got a strikeout and a ground out to get out of the frame unscathed.  From there, Birch settled in, retiring nine Hawkeyes in order before Iowa scratched across its final run in the seventh.

Illinois State evened the tally at two with two runs on four hits in the top of the fourth.  Kopp and Nichelle Harrison both delivered RBI singles in the inning.

Birch finished with a career-high 14 strikeouts in the complete game victory.  Iowa starter Chelsea Lyon allowed seven runs (two earned) on eight hits in 6.2 innings.  The junior had three strikeouts to five walks in the game.

Keim and Dowling accounted for four of Iowa’s six hits in the game.  Keim went 2-for-3 with an RBI, while Dowling had two hits with a run scored and RBI.

Iowa (3-3) returns to action later tonight against No. 5/6 Arizona State. 

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