Softball infield changing, but not preventing victories

BY IAN MARTIN | MARCH 23, 2010 7:30 AM

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Inconsistency in sports is often frowned upon, but for an Iowa softball team searching for the winning combination, an infield by committee may be part of life this season.

An ever-rotating list of players have taken to the dirt this season, but the team’s coaches don’t seem fazed.

“We have a pretty new team, so we’re still looking for answers,” assistant coach Diane Stephenson said. “But we have to keep trying things to find the winning combination.”

Head coach Gayle Blevins, whose squad has won six of its last seven games, echoed her assistant’s statement.

“We’ve been bouncing our infield around because we felt like we haven’t been as consistent in our infield as we’ve needed to be,” the 23-year Iowa coach said.

The infield players did, however, play particularly well in the team’s double-header against South Dakota on Sunday. While pitcher Amanda Zust threw a no-hitter, she also received numerous exclamation-point plays from her teammates surrounding the pitching circle.

First baseman Katie Brown had to split to catch the putout twice, and third baseman Katie Keim recorded three-straight putouts between the fifth and sixth innings — the final of which was a leap to field a one-hopper, which Keim then darted to first for a bang-bang play at the base.

Sacrificing the body is something the team practices, though, and is even one of the coach’s favorite mantras.

“We always practice to go all out,” Stephenson said. “Coach Blevins says, ‘If you don’t dive, you don’t know.’ ”

Freshman Jordan Goschie, who started just her third and fourth game of the season during Sunday’s double-header, may be another key cog in the dirt diamond.

After she made a number of defensive stops, her coach seemed to think she’d found a place in he lineup.

Blevins said that with Goschie, “It’s what we always talk about: Take advantage of the opportunities you get. Whatever they might be, be prepared for them and take advantage of them. And she did that.”

The second baseman played down the importance of the game for her, though, and said the infield’s efforts were made to help their hurler.

“The field played a great game [during the no-hitter],” she said. “We made every play to help our pitcher, and she did great.”

The infield has also been contributing at the plate, with 14 of the team’s 17 RBIs during the most double-header coming from infielders. Blevins said run production is essential to the team’s confidence, and it will help improve play going into the next few games.

Goschie had her first and then second and third career RBIs on Sunday to go along with her starts.
Her most notable was her first career home run, a shot in the second inning that drifted past the left-field wall. And while she sprinted around the infield she normally patrols, the Eugene, Ore., native didn’t really notice what had happened.

“I was kind of surprised [it got over the fence],” Goschie joked.

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