Softball player shows heart

BY MITCH SMITH | APRIL 06, 2010 7:30 AM

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Heidi Daumen isn’t one of the best softball players in the Big Ten.

She’s never been on the all-conference team or even been named Big Ten Player of the Week.

But that doesn’t mean her presence isn’t felt every time the Hawkeyes take to Pearl Field for a game.

While her statistics don’t grab attention — she’s played in 53 games to date, compiling four hits, 11 runs scored, and a pair of RBIs — the Aurora, Ill., native has made an impact on her team that goes beyond the numbers.

Daumen, 21, a senior on the Iowa softball team, has received the Peg Augspurger Hawkeye Heart Award twice. Augspurger, a former Hawkeye softball player from 1977-79, always had the team’s interest at heart, Iowa head coach Gayle Blevins said.

The award is given annually to a Hawkeye player who exemplifies such qualities.

Since the award’s inception in 1996, only two Hawkeyes have received the award more than once — Laura Chipman in 2002-04 and Daumen.

Daumen’s role on the team is primarily as a bullpen catcher. She works with pitchers during practice and ensures they are prepared before games. Blevins recognized this is Daumen’s role on the squad, but said it’s with absolutely no disrespect.

“It’s easy to be a day-to-day player,” Blevins said. “The greater challenge is the kids who aren’t in the lineup with any kind of frequency yet still be a positive contributor to the team.”

Her contributions to the squad have been immense. Her leadership skills and knowledge of the game don’t go unnoticed.

While not playing is tough for Daumen at times, she understands the significance of her job and how it helps the team get better.

“Obviously, it’s tough. I want to be on the field,” she said. “But I know what I do is extremely important for my pitchers and my team.”

Senior pitcher Amanda Zust has been teammates with Daumen during their four years in the program. Described by Zust as a student of the game, the pitcher said Daumen has greatly aided her development in the pitcher’s circle.

“She knows the game extremely well, better than any player on our team,” Zust said. “Having eight new faces on our team, she’s able to explain things in depth really well. She’s the type of player who just brings a lot of heart to the team.”

When she does get an opportunity to play, Blevins knows she’s going to take advantage of the situation.

Daumen’s only hit this season was a huge one.

The Hawkeyes were locked in a 1-1 tie with Florida Atlantic on March 18 when she was called upon to pinch-hit in the extra-inning contest. The senior stepped the plate and singled, driving in baserunner Katie Keim for the game-winner.

“It’s so important to value every opportunity that you get,” Blevins said. “When I put her in, I know she’s not going to miss a sign. She’s going to know what she’s doing and going to be ready to go.”

Being acknowledged for what she does to make the Hawkeyes better and receiving the Augspurger award validates her four years in the program, Daumen said.

“It provides me with kind of a satisfaction of knowing that all the work I do is recognized,” Daumen said. “It’s a thankless job, but I do it so well. It really solidified what I was doing and it meant a lot.”

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