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Iowa softball adapts to indoor practice

BY JACK ROSSI | FEBRUARY 12, 2014 5:00 AM

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It’s a busy time of year for Iowa’s indoor football facility.

Every year the Iowa softball team find themselves sharing the building with various other sports forced indoors by the weather. The task of sharing the field isn’t new but takes a lot of planning and work to ensure all teams have a smooth practice.

“Since I’ve been here, which is going on four years now, we’ve always been indoors this time of year … There’s not much trouble sharing the field; we just need to communicate and plan ahead. That’s the big thing,” head coach Marla Looper said. “[Baseball head coach Rick Heller] and I will walk in each other’s office and see what we are doing each day. We’ve got to find a rhythm because that’s what we need to do to be on our A game when we hit the field.”

While the indoor facility is great, the women still have to adapt to the atmosphere and difference between their field and the turf inside.

“At first, there was a little distraction. The first week there was a lot of construction going on. I think we quickly figured out how to focus on our own thing,” junior Megan Blank said. “For the turf, you don’t really get bad hops on defense. You know what you’re going to get, but with this turf, if definitely plays slower than the dirt, so we had to adjust to that.”

Football, baseball, lacrosse, soccer, and softball share the field, but Iowa isn’t the lone school using the football team’s facility. Most of the Big Ten teams are forced indoors to practice, and most use the football team’s facility. What the squad is most looking forward to is the construction of a new facility the university is building next to the Hawkeye Tennis & Recreation Complex, which should help out various sports by giving them another facility in which to practice.

“There are not many universities that have numerous large facilities that you can go get your work done,” Looper said. “I’m anxious to get the new facility done on the West Campus. That will allow us to spread out more and not cramp anybody too much.”

With the indoor field as crowded as it is, the softball team has a strict practice schedule that limits the time the team can work.

“We want to find some ideal times to practice where we aren’t having kids sprinting in from class because they are here for school as well,” Looper said. “We don’t want to eliminate their opportunity to go to class. We will start practice every day without our whole team because that is the time slot we get and we will make the most of it when everybody is here.”

The team expects to be inside for the next three to four weeks. Senior pitcher Kayla Massey doesn’t see much of a difference from inside to outside, especially when pitching.

“There aren’t too many differences, at least for pitching,” she said. “Moving into cleats is a little shaky at first, but once you start warming up, it’s fine.”

This week, the Hawks will turn their attention to holes they found in their game and hope to patch them up in the short time before heading to the Getterman Classic this weekend in Waco, Texas.

“We are trying to iron out some of those kinks,” Looper said. “We have our ironing board out. We want to key on our base running. We struggled there. Pitchers are going to pound the zone and get in the strike zone because we walked 16 hitters over the weekend, which is way too many. Offensively, we have to continue to attack good pitches and let the bad ones go. We’ve got a lot to work on.”


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