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Iowa softball takes two wins to improve to 16-12

BY MOLLY IRENE OLMSTEAD | MARCH 21, 2011 7:20 AM

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The Iowa softball team returned home on Sunday after 26-straight games on the road. Its first game was postponed for more than 45 minutes because of rain and lightning, but once the blue skies returned above Pearl Field, the Hawkeyes took on South Dakota for a double-header and won both games, 10-0 and 9-1.

In the first game, the Hawkeyes (16-12) played only four and half innings in a mercy-rule victory.

With at least one hit from every team member except Katie Keim, the Hawkeyes were able to turn 12 hits into 10 runs.

Iowa exploded in third inning when Stephanie Ochoa, Liz Watkins, Jenny Schuelke, Brianna Luna, Ashley Akers, and Michelle Zoeller converted six hits into six runs.

“When you put pressure on the defense by making it work, you can get a lot out of it,” senior captain Chelsey Carmody said. “It can really help you jump ahead when you just put the ball in play.”



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In the second game, the Coyotes (9-12) started with one run in the top of the first inning, but after a walk and an error, the Hawkeyes quickly came back to score four runs on one hit.

Iowa’s ability to take advantage of the opponent’s mistakes proved to be essential in putting the Hawkeyes ahead of Coyotes early in both games.

“We capitalized on opportunities that they gave,” head coach Marla Looper said. “And when we were on defense, we didn’t give them any extra opportunities, which gives us a bigger chance of coming out with a victory.”

Carmody led the Hawkeyes at bat, going 5-for-7 in the two games. Her batting average improved to a team-leading .447 after Sunday, closely followed by fellow senior Ochoa at .443.

“I’m just trying to go up and read the situation and think about what the team needs most at the time,” Carmody said. “That just helps me try to get a good at-bat out of every situation I can.”

The Hawkeye seniors aren’t the only players showing consistency. Iowa’s young pitching staff of sophomore Chelsea Lyon and freshman Kayla Massey is becoming more consistent as the season progresses after struggling earlier in the year.

As Massey works through her first year of college softball, she’s learning to settle down in the circle and deliver good pitches.

Watkins, the team’s junior catcher, frequently visits the mound after a frustrating call from the umpire to calm Massey down and keep her focused on the game.

“It’s part of being a catcher to take a kind of leadership role and go out and have a little chat with the pitchers,” Watkins said. “They’re both young, but that doesn’t matter because they’re both doing a really great job of keeping runs away from our competitors. They’re getting better and better each time too, which is the best possible thing for us as a team.”

In the sixth inning of the Hawkeyes’ second game when Iowa led 6-1, two base hits and a walk loaded the bases for South Dakota. But Massey avoided a Coyote comeback by striking out South Dakota’s Kassie Loe to end the inning.

“They’re learning to be comfortable being uncomfortable,” Looper said. “Having the bases loaded, I’ve seen some of the best situations under pressure lately. They’re doing well with that. I don’t think age has very much to do with it — they’ve been throwing for most of their lives — but instead it has a lot to do with just settling in and being confident with what they have.”


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