116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — This season was a step forward. A big one.
Grace Banes hit a go-ahead, two-run home run in the bottom of the fourth inning, Allison Doocy pitched three shutout innings in relief and Iowa edged Illinois, 4-3, in a Big Ten softball game Sunday afternoon at Pearl Field.
The Hawkeyes’ fourth-place Big Ten finish is their best since 2009.
“That’s crazy,” Coach Renee Gillispie said. “I came here with a one-year plan, a three-year plan and a five-year plan.”
Part of Gillispie’s three-year plan was a top-three finish in the Big Ten. The Hawkeyes (26-18) came close, winning 10 of their final 12 games. They narrowly missed the NCAA tournament.
She was asked what her five-year plan included.
“To win the Big Ten championship,” she said. “And to be in the (Women’s College) World Series.”
“And by 2025, I want to win a World Series. If you’re not here to do that, why are you here?”
The Hawkeyes aren’t there yet, but they’re a lot closer than they were before Gillispie arrived. And Banes’ bomb made it a happy way to go out on Senior Day.
“This was all for the seniors,” said Banes, one of six freshman to start Sunday. “They were so happy and excited.”
Illinois starter Sydney Sickels had retired seven straight Hawkeyes heading into the bottom of the fourth, but Nia Carter started the rally with a sharp single to left.
Miranda Peek bunted Carter to second, then Banes hit a 2-2 pitch off the top of the centerfield fence.
“(Sickels), she’s really good,” Banes said. “She has gotten me in the past, but I had confidence, and I wanted to hit it as hard as I could.”
Illinois (24-20) looked poised to regain the momentum in the top of the fifth, putting the first two runners on base. But Doocy (12-5) relieved starter Lauren Shaw and got out of the jam.
Doocy induced a pair of flyouts, then walked Kelly Ryono. Then, she fanned Breana Shorter on a 1-2 riseball.
“I trusted the pitch calling,” Doocy said. “I was going to trust the riseball, throw it out of the zone and see if she fished for it.”
Doocy retired the Illini in order in the sixth and seventh.
Illinois struck first in bizarre fashion.
Avrey Steiner stole third base, then scored when Iowa catcher Miranda Peek’s throw to third instead caromed off the bat of Delaney Rummell.
Peek redeemed herself immediately, knocking a two-run single in the bottom of the first for a 2-1 Iowa lead.
RBI singles by Kailee Powell and Rummell put Illinois back in front in the top of the third, but Shaw struck Ryono out with the bases loaded to keep the Hawkeyes in it.
Banes delivered the next inning.
Doocy wass one of seven seniors honored postgame.
“It’s not just the end of their careers,” Gillispie said. “It’s a celebration. There was a lot of energy today.”
IOWA 4, ILLINOIS 3
At Iowa City
Illinois 102 000 0 — 3 8 0
Iowa 200 200 x — 4 5 1
Sydney Sickels, Addy Jarvis (4) and Belle Loya. Lauren Shaw, Allison Doocy (5) and Miranda Peek. W — Doocy (12-5). L — Sickels (15-7). HR — Iowa: Grace Banes (3).