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Iowa softball fighting to recover in time

BY MOLLY IRENE OLMSTEAD | MAY 04, 2011 7:20 AM

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The Iowa softball team is in a slump. After sweeping its home series against Michigan State and Northwestern in the first half of April and toppling No. 1 Michigan in Ann Arbor, the Hawkeyes have fallen in their past five games against Michigan, Wisconsin, and Indiana.

Iowa lost to Wisconsin last week after making three errors in two games and then were defeated by Indiana when the Hawkeyes registered only three hits in the two-game series in Bloomington, Ind., on April 30 and May 1.

But Iowa will have a clean slate when the Hawkeyes challenge Illinois in a double-header today at Pearl Field. The first game will begin at 4 p.m. and the second at 6 p.m.

"We know that we've learned from those outings, but we're not going to dwell on them," head coach Marla Looper said. "That's always hard, because you're dwelling on it to learn from it, but you've got to learn to shut out the negative and only use the positive."

Freshman pitcher Kayla Massey is making a proactive effort to fix mistakes she made against Wisconsin on April 28. After missing an opportunity to pick off a "sleeping" base runner at second, Massey allowed a three-run homer to the next batter.

But instead of dwelling on the negative, she went into practice and worked on pitching from the same count that she allowed the home run on. The Foothill Ranch, Calif., native also said she learned to trust her instincts when fielding the ball and picking off base runners.

"Working on it definitely makes me feel more confident because if it happens again I know I won't have to struggle with it again," Massey said. "Once you learn from it, then it's much easier when it happens a second time because you've had time to think about it and work on it."

Although many of the mistakes the team is working to fix are physical, the team will still put a lot of effort into recovering mentally as well. The biggest psychological mistake they've made is dwelling on their mistakes, but as a team, the Hawkeyes are learning to let go.

With four conference games left, the Hawkeyes feel the urgent need to get out of their slump, with the most pressure on the seniors to bring the team back together. The last conference games against Illinois and Penn State will be crucial if Iowa hopes to qualify for regionals.

"Things were going really well," Looper said. "We were on a high. The thing is though, when you're up there, the only place to go is down unless you can maintain it, and that's not easy. People want to knock you down when you're up there, but you've got learn to not knock yourself down — you have enough people trying to do that for you. And if you do get knocked down, you have to get yourself back up."


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