Hawkeye softball heads to Ann Arbor to play the Big Ten's best


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Iowa’s softball team will hit the road again this weekend after taking a week off away from the diamond. The Hawkeyes series against No. 9 and Big Ten leader Michigan (36-7, 13-0) is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. (CDT) today in the Wilpon Complex in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Iowa (24-16, 4-8) is coming off an impressive road series last weekend in which it took two of three from a solid Northwestern squad. It was the first road series the Hawkeyes have taken since conference play began. They are 22-9 away from Pearl Field; however, Michigan has yet to lose a game at home this year (9-0).

Last weekend’s series certainly should give the Hawkeyes the confidence they have been looking for lately. It’s been a bit of a struggle in conference play so far, but the team continues to strive for improvement.

“It does boost us a little bit, and boosts the morale. But we’re still not as good as we want to be. We’re still not sitting where we want to be,” Iowa softball coach Marla Looper said. “That gives them something to work for. They come out every day and know that there’s something to key on to make them better.”

Black and Gold slugger Megan Blank acknowledged that although the Hawks had a good series last weekend, mistakes aren’t the end of the world. How they handle it is what really matters.

“We need to slow ourselves down. If we make one mistake — I mean, mistakes are going to happen; we’re human — but we can’t let it snowball,” she said. “We need to stop it, right there, and figure out how to switch the momentum to our side.”

After a wild weekend in Evanston — the Hawkeyes tallied 30 runs in the three-games series, while allowing 24 — it’s going to be important to avoid those strenuous innings. Senior center fielder Johnnie Dowling realizes the importance of tightening up the fundamentals.

“We had some long innings last week, and we need to cut down on errors and handle our situations a little bit better,” she said.

Every member of the team is ready for Michigan, acknowledging that although the team did play better last weekend, they are not satisfied. One conference series victory is good; however, it’s not enough to satisfy the senior’s championship drive.

“We won the series, but we’re still not satisfied with the result,” Dowling said. “We need to get back to practice and figure some things out. Keep working.”

This mindset emulates that of her head coach.

“There’s always something to get better at,” Looper said. “You have to enjoy those moments when you win, but there’s always room for improvement. That’s our challenge.”

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