Softball faces Hoosiers this weekend at home

BY MITCH SMITH | APRIL 02, 2010 7:30 AM

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Losing to Iowa State for the second time this season was disappointing on a number of levels for the Iowa softball team.

For a team that preaches consistency, the Hawkeyes were anything but that on Wednesday.

Iowa committed four errors in the 7-3 defeat in Ames, a loss that snapped the Hawkeyes’ four-game winning streak.

“Losing to Iowa State was a big disappointment,” sophomore Liz Watkins said. “When you have four errors, you’re not going to win many games. The biggest key is to put that game behind us.”

The Hawkeyes (16-13-1) will try to do just that when they return to Pearl Field this weekend on Saturday and April 4 with Big Ten contests against Indiana (7-19). First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m. on both days.

Iowa enters the contest undefeated in Big Ten play (2-0), and Indiana opens its Big Ten schedule this weekend. The Hawkeyes handily defeated the Hoosiers in both games last season, and the team is hoping for more of the same this weekend.

“[Indiana] plays with a lot of emotion and a lot of energy,” Iowa head coach Gayle Blevins said. “We need to play solid Iowa softball, and the rest will take care of itself.”

Blevins and assistant Diane Stephenson are quite familiar with the Hawkeyes’ next opponent, and it’s not only because Indiana is in the Big Ten.

The pair combined for 22 years of head coaching in Bloomington, Ind. Blevins began her Hall of Fame head coaching career with the Hoosiers, where she served from 1980-87. Stephenson succeeded Blevins, coaching from 1988-2002.

The Hoosiers have Iowa ties, as well. Indiana assistant Christy Hebert played for Iowa from 1994-97 and coached Northern Iowa from 2002-08.

Consistency is key for the Hawkeyes, junior Chelsey Carmody said, and the team has worked hard in practice to get more value out of each opportunity in a game.

“We’re really working on being aggressive, getting quality at-bats, and having a quality game,” she said.

A pair of Hawkeyes — Watkins and freshman pitcher Chelsea Lyon — hope to stay hot this weekend and spoil the Hoosiers Big Ten opener.

If Watkins continues to swing the bat the way she has, success this weekend seems almost inevitable.
The sophomore cocaptain is 8-for-10 over the last three games, belting three home runs and driving in five runs over that span. Watkins has five home runs and 19 RBIs this season, and she leads the team with a .355 batting average.

“I’m just seeing the ball really well,” she said. “I keep telling myself that I’m better than these opposing girls, and I’m the one that’s going to come out on top.”

Lyon has continued to get stronger as the season goes on, as well. The Broken Arrow, Okla., native has tossed 232⁄3 scoreless innings over the past five games, going 3-0 over that stretch.

The Hawkeyes’ success isn’t based on opposing teams, Watkins said, it’s about looking at themselves and trusting in their abilities.

“It doesn’t matter who we’re playing,” she said. “If we bring the mentality that we’re going to dominate any opponent, then we’re going to come out on top.”

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