By James Geerdes
When your final stat line consists of 7 innings pitched, 1 hit, 1 earned run, 1 walk, 1 hit batter, and 9 strikeouts, your team typically wins the ballgame.
Unfortunately for starting pitcher Allison Doocy, Iowa softball is not typical. With its ace pitcher in the circle, the team has competed with some of the top programs in the nation. They’ve topped No. 8 Arizona State, No. 14 Michigan, and No. 21 Baylor. Doocy has been an asset to the team as she has pushed Iowa to the second-best ERA in the Big Ten.
These dominating pitching performances don’t always play out in Doocy’s favor, however. In Tuesday night’s matchup with Western Illinois, Doocy’s electric stat line should have been what Iowa fans remembered from their night at Pearl Field.
She was robot-like throughout Tuesday night’s matchup with Western Illinois. From the start, the umpire’s zone was tight, but Doocy threaded each pitch. She threw 85 pitches throughout her 7 innings, 62 of which were strikes.
What Hawkeye fans will remember from Tuesday night’s performance is a stagnant Hawkeye offense. Iowa was no-hit by Emily Ira — who had come into the game with a 3.51 ERA — through 6.2 innings.
The Solon product returned to her home state and carved up Iowa batters, forcing ground balls and fly-outs in her 8 innings of work.
Iowa batters simply could not touch Ira.
“We got to figure out what we know we can hit,” Looper said. “Right now, we cannot hit balls out of the zone. We can hit a ball in the zone and we’re not doing a good job of finding that pitch. We need to figure that out and be better in general.”
Western Illinois finally got to Doocy in the top of the seventh. With one out, first baseman Hailey Duwa turned on a high inside pitch and sent it over the right field wall. Doocy’s no-hit bid was ended and the Leathernecks took the lead.
Head coach Marla Looper finally found her answer to Ira’s pitching on her bench. Brooke Rozier came to the plate in the bottom of the seventh with two outs with bases empty as a pinch hitter. With her team down 1, Rozier laced a double to left center. She sparked a single from Angela Schmiederer, which plated an Iowa run to tie the game and sent the game to extra innings.
Looper made another decision that may have changed the game. She pulled Doocy and reached into her bullpen for Lauren Shaw. Shaw could not replicate her starter’s performance, as her one inning of work led to 2 Western Illinois hits and 1 earned run. Doocy’s midweek, non-conference work was planned to be cut earlier, but Iowa failed to provide the production needed for its bullpen to take over duties.
“I was ready to put Lauren in in the third inning, but we didn’t want to have any run support,” Looper said. “So I had to keep Doocy in as long as I could. Unfortunately, we didn’t want to play defense in that inning.”
That run was the deciding factor in the game, as Western Illinois won 2-1.
Doocy may have shined, but Iowa’s poor offense shadowed its star pitcher’s performance.
“Doocy threw a heck of a ballgame,” Looper said. “And it’s unfortunate we can’t put any runs up to support her in an outing like that.”