New softball head coach knows pitching


SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

When Chelsea Lyon found out who the new Iowa softball head coach was, a name immediately popped into her head.

But itwasn’t Marla Looper, the name of her new coach.

“When my dad told me she was coming, I was so excited,” Lyon said. “Because she’s worked with Cat Osterman.”

Osterman, a legendary softball pitcher, rose to stardom at the University of Texas and won the USA National Player of the Year Award in 2003, 2005, and 2006. Her pitching coach was Looper, who will replace retired Hawkeye coach Gayle Blevins this season.

Looper helped coach the Longhorns to three appearances in the College World Series and nine NCAA Tournament berths in her 11 seasons at Texas. She brings that experience and knowledge of how to achieve success to Iowa City.

“I think the biggest thing is work ethic, and grit, and getting after it,” Looper said. “We definitely had a lot of talent, and recruiting well will be a goal here, but it starts with work ethic.”

Looper spent a majority of her time at Texas coaching the pitchers, but in 2006, she switched to defense — a move she said gave her fresh energy. But Looper’s area of expertise, she said, remains pitching. She was a star pitcher at Florida State, posting the fifth-best career earned-run average in school history.

That expertise will come in handy as she mentors a young Iowa pitching staff, featuring only Lyon, a sophomore, and freshman Kayla Massey.

Lyon has already learned from her new coach, adding a new pitch to her arsenal. Last season, Lyon said she only threw a curve ball and rise ball. But after Looper watched her pitch for a few days, she helped her develop a drop, a pitch that Lyon said “falls off the table” just as it reaches the plate.

In order to teach her young pitcher, Looper demonstrated how to throw the pitch herself.

“I didn’t really have that [drop pitch] last season,” Lyon said. “I had a low fastball I could throw for a strike. But now it has the spin on it, and I can get it to move. It’s amazing. I’m really excited about it.”
Senior captain Chelsea Carmody said Looper’s work with pitchers seems to be paying off.

“She’s definitely been good with our young pitching staff,” Carmody, an infielder, said. “I definitely have seen improvements with Chelsea [Lyon].”

As a top assistant at a highly successful program, Looper said, she has had head-coach offers before. But the chance for some continuity was important to her, and she saw that at Iowa, where Blevins coached for 23 seasons.

“I’m not one to bounce around to steppingstone locations,” Looper said. “I had some offers, but I wasn’t ready, and it wasn’t the right fit. It needed to be something I was ready to sink my teeth into and really stick around and establish something.”

> Share your thoughts! Click here to write a Letter to the Editor.

comments powered by Disqus

Privacy Policy (8/15/07) | Terms of Use (4/28/08) | Content Submission Agreement (8/23/07) | Copyright Compliance Policy (8/25/07) | RSS Terms of Use

Copyright © The Daily Iowan, All Rights Reserved.