Softball assistant sticks to basics

BY SAM LOUWAGIE | MAY 06, 2011 7:20 AM

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When Adrianna Baggetta preaches fundamentals, it’s for times such as these.

The first-year Iowa assistant softball coach is in charge of the Hawkeye defense, and she has spent all year focusing on drills and mechanics more than overall defensive scheme. Baggetta, who Iowa players call “Coach B,” believes that having solid fundamentals is important when a team struggles.

“When you hit bottom, or things are going wrong, you have to have a foundation to fall back on,” she said. “When you don’t, you have nowhere to go.”

Baggetta hopes her season spent running the team through repeated short-hop drills and workouts designed to keep their feet and gloves moving will pay off this weekend against Penn State. The Hawkeyes are in the midst of a seven-game losing streak, and one of the culprits has been defensive miscues.

“They know the fundamentals are there,” Baggetta said. “They’re just not trusting them right now. They’ve got to know when you’ve spent the time building that base up, you can rely on it.”

Despite the recent rough patch, Baggetta and head coach Marla Looper say the defense has made significant strides since practice began in the fall. Baggetta praised the progress of a handful of players, including outfielders Ashley Akers and Johnnie Dowling and infielders Katie Keim and Michelle Zoeller.

Looper said she and Baggetta are “on the same page” in defensive philosophy, and she praised her assistant’s stick-to-the-basics approach.

“I think she’s done a great job with the defense. We’re deep into our season, and we’re still focused on fundamentals,” the first-year head coach said. “If we don’t do the little things right, we don’t give ourselves a chance of making that spectacular play.”

Looper said she brought Baggetta onto the staff because while hitting coach — and recent Iowa graduate — Stacy Johnson brought recent playing experience, Looper was looking for someone with extensive experience in coaching and recruiting.

Baggetta fit that profile, having spent eight years as an assistant coach at South Carolina filling a variety of roles, including recruiting coordinator.

Senior shortstop Chelsey Carmody said Baggetta’s detail-oriented philosophy has helped the Hawkeye defense.

“Coach B is really focused on making sure that each thing you do, you do it right,” Carmody said. “It’s helped us to understand the game better overall when you have that basic fundamental approach.”

That approach is especially important, Baggetta said, because it is the new coaching staff’s first year to establish the base that she stresses is so important.

And while Baggetta applied for both the hitting and defensive coaching jobs at Iowa, she said she’s always seen defense as her top priority.

“I’ve always been one to think defense is the most important,” she said. “Because you can control everything on defense. When you’re hitting, you’re swinging at whatever the pitcher is throwing. But on defense, you’re in complete control of everything.”

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