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Hawkeye softball avoids series sweep with Sunday win over Nittany Lions

BY RYAN PROBASCO | APRIL 29, 2013 5:00 AM

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Fueled by senior pitcher Chelsea Lyon’s 3-hit shutout and second basemen Bradi Wall’s 3-hit performance, the Iowa softball team defeated Penn State, 5-0, at Pearl Field on Sunday. The win is just Iowa’s fifth in conference play this season, and it moved the Hawkeyes’ overall record to 26-23 on the year.

Lyon had struggled with consistency in Big Ten competition prior to Sunday’s performance. In her first five conference starts this season, the senior had a 14.51 ERA and sported a meager 19:16 strikeout to walk ratio.

But on Sunday, the Broken Arrow, Okla., native controlled the strike zone and trusted the defense behind her en route to her complete-game shutout.

“[Lyon]’s been working through some things the last few weeks, and today, she got back to where she was trusting her stuff and her ability,” Iowa softball coach Marla Looper said. “She did a nice job of hitting the zone early, and when she had to make adjustments, she only had to make minor ones instead of trying to change everything.”

Lyon suggested her success on Sunday was due in large part to the mental approach she took with her to the circle.

“It was just focus,” she said after the game. “The past couple of weeks, it’s been on and off. I had to refocus and get my mind right on everything. Today, I had the mentality to go in there and win.”

The Black and Gold’s offense also made the necessary adjustments in its approach prior to the game. Senior second basemen Wall had a game-high 3 hits, including her third home run of the season.

She credited her selectivity and her ability to track pitches as reasons for her strong day at the plate.

“I think it was just watching the ball, as weird as it sounds,” Wall said. “I’ve gone away and tried to over-swing a little bit too much lately. And so I stayed on it and watched it all the way today. Apparently, it worked, so hopefully, I can keep that going the rest of the year.”

The victory was bittersweet for several members of the Hawkeye squad. Lyon and Wall, as well as seniors Ashley Akers, Johnnie Dowling, and Sam Valentine played in their final conference game at Pearl Field.

The seniors were honored following the game for their contributions to the Iowa program. Looper and the rest of the coaching staff were thrilled to be able to send out the seniors in good spirits.

“You always like it when you got your Senior Day, you can come away with a win,” the third-year head coach said. “I’m proud of our team for fighting back after two tough days.”

Iowa is confident Sunday’s victory is a sign of things to come, and the Hawkeyes believe only minor mental adjustments must be made if they are to ensure positive outcomes will continue to occur.

“I would say dealing with adversity and adjusting a little quicker offensively but other than that it’s just mentality,” Lyon said when asked what the team needs to focus on the rest of the season. “I think our mental game needs to get a little better. That’s just as important as defense and offense.”


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