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Softball trying to score more against Wisconsin

BY IAN MARTIN | APRIL 14, 2010 7:30 AM

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The Iowa softball team is looking to put a tally in the win column after its first Big Ten loss on Sunday.

Wisconsin may be the perfect supplier today when Iowa (20-14-1, 6-1) plays a double-header against the sub-.500 Badgers (10-22, 0-6) in Madison.

While Wisconsin’s record may seemingly make the Hawkeyes the clear favorite, last weekend’s series with Purdue proved to be tough on Iowa’s offense.

Prior to the Hawkeyes’ 2-0 home loss to the Boilermakers, the squad only mustered one run in a 1-0 shutout on April 10. On Tuesday, Iowa coaches and players addressed the lack of offense.

While mechanics may have been off over the two-game stretch, it seems the biggest thing the team faces is overcoming a mental hurdle in the batter’s box.

“The first place to start is to change your mindset,” outfielder Jenny Schuelke said. “You just need to take control.”

Head coach Gayle Blevins agreed. On Sunday, she said she saw her hitters “guessing” at the plate.

The 23rd-year coach said she felt as though her Hawkeyes have “been aggressive” and had “been dictating what was going to happen [at the plate].” Of course, every team can have an off-day at the plate, she noted.

But after an off-weekend, the team owns an overall team batting average of .278, with five women hitting .299 or higher. The more staggering numbers have come on defense, where Iowa has only allowed five runs in as many games.

Schuelke said today against Wisconsin — a team that has scored only one run in its last four Big Ten games — she and her teammates will focus on one defensive aspect in particular: managing mistakes.

The junior said the team’s biggest emphasis on the field has been on getting out of jams when runners are on base — a mindset likely stemming from the Hawkeyes’ last game, in which both Purdue runs came in the top of the second as a result of a misplayed ground ball.

“Even though we lost the game on Sunday, that was really just one inning and two hits,” Blevins said.

Pitcher Chelsea Lyon, who will start one of the games today against the Badgers, didn’t allow an earned run during the Purdue game but came away with the loss. Aside from the error, which she contributed to, the freshman couldn’t find any fault with her fielders.

“We shut them down defensively,” Lyon said. “You just have to learn from [the error], put it behind you, and keep going.”

And despite a young pitcher taking her first Big Ten loss, Blevins appeared confident that the game would be a rewritten story in today’s start.

“She knows that the ball she didn’t handle opened that inning up,” she said. “And [she’ll] learn from that mistake.”

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