Iowa softball splits doubleheader against Nebraska in first home games of the season

Raven Moore
Hawk Central

For the first time since last May, the Iowa (21-13, 3-2 Big Ten) softball team had the opportunity to play in front of their home fans at Bob Pearl Field.

In their home opener, they hosted the Nebraska Cornhuskers (24-10, 4-1 Big Ten) in their annual doubleheader.

In the first game, the Hawkeyes avoided a late-game scare to earn the tone-setting 4-2 win.

The second game was a different story as the Cornhuskers managed to score three or more runs in two different innings to take home the 9-3 win.

Here are the high points of the night for Iowa as well as look ahead to what the Hawkeyes have coming up on their schedule next:

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The pitching staff keeps composure with backs against the wall

Heading into the top of the fifth inning of the day's first game, Iowa found itself in a pretty good spot.

They were leading 3-0 after a big second inning and their defense had allowed just two hits. However, their confidence was put to the test after Nebraska managed to load the bases following a leadoff double, walk and batter getting hit by a pitch.

Iowa's starting pitcher Breanna Vasquez called timeout and had a brief conference with her catcher Tristin Doster and pitching coach Mandy Gardner about how to proceed.

"In that situation, all you can do is breathe and relax," Vasquez said. "You don't want to be bases loaded against a team like that who is really good at hitting. So, I just had to trust myself, trust my coaches, and trust my teammates enough to know that we could get out of it."

Vasquez and Co. handled the task valiantly as they registered three quick outs on the ensuing batters, capped off by a strikeout from Vasquez.

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She went on to pitch one more inning before being relieved by Denali Loecker. She was credited with the win and in her time at the mound, she allowed five hits, two earned runs (one homerun), one walk and struck out two batters.

Iowa's Brylee Klosterman (22) bats during a NCAA Big Ten Conference softball game against Nebraska.

Brylee Klosterman does not allow hometown jitters to keep her from having a standout performance

Despite going hitless in the last two games, Brylee Klosterman got right back on track Tuesday.

A North Liberty native, Klosterman had one of her best games of the season playing close to home.

On the day, she went 3-for-5 with three runs scored, two RBIs and a home run (her second of the season).

Klosterman said she was excited to play in front of friends and family, but she had to focus on the task at hand.

"I obviously appreciate everyone who comes to watch the team, but I can't let it get to me and I start putting too much pressure on myself," Klosterman said. "I love that they are here, but I can't let it get in the way of my game."

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Iowa already ties last season's Big Ten win totals

Last season's 3-20 record against Big Ten competition was the worst for Iowa since Renee Gillispie took over as their head coach in 2019.

Through just five conference games this year, they already have three victories and have many more opportunities to add to that total.

"It has a lot to do with the freshmen," Gillispie said. "I mean, just look at how many freshmen that we have starting right now. They are hungry and want to compete. They are out there fighting for Iowa."

Currently, the team has two freshmen in their starting lineup, with Jalen Adams getting the start at pitcher in the second game of the night.

This weekend when Iowa plays its next slate of games, they will have the benefit of playing on their home field when they host the No. 20 Northwestern Wildcats for a three-game series.

The first of the trio will take place on Friday at 5:00 p.m. followed by Saturday's game starting at 2:00 p.m. and Sunday's game starting at 12:00 p.m.