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Softball tries to work through shaky start

BY JACK ROSSI | FEBRUARY 19, 2014 5:00 AM

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Iowa softball will have to shore up some offensive inconsistencies if it wants to get back to a .500 record anytime soon.

The Hawkeyes returned from a jam-packed weekend in which they played five games in three days, and they now see themselves in a hole with a record of 3-6.

“We’ve got to be better,” head coach Marla Looper said. “We got quite a few hits, but not when runners were in scoring position, so that kind of hurt. We did see some offensive production but not in the way that we need to.”

Iowa recorded only 2 runs in its four losses and saved all of its offensive production for the final game against Drake, in which they unloaded for 16 hits and 9 runs. That kind of inconsistency is frustrating for coaches and fans alike.

Base running has been a weak area for the team this season — the Haawkeyes have made mental errors on the base paths, and the mistakes have ruined crucial scoring opportunities.

“We are running into outs …We are getting called out on leaving the base early on a fly ball when we have plenty of time to get to the next base,” Looper said. “When you do have runners in scoring position, running yourself out of innings is not a very good thing. You might as well just cut your feet off before you even step up to the plate.”

Looper and the coaching staff hope to address the issues this week.

“We are going to work a lot on base running, and getting reads, and reading ground balls, fly balls, when to move and when not to move, so it becomes more instinctual and not questionable,” she said.

The offense is not without some bright spots. Freshman Claire Fritsch and sophomore Erin Erickson have been two of the few productive players.

Fritsch has begun her college career on the right foot, putting up a staggering .444 batting average in nine games.

“It’s just practicing,” she said. “We work hard in the cages and everything, so I think it finally came out and showed on the field. I am seeing the ball really well, and playing at Baylor — I have played on that field since I was a kid, so I felt really comfortable playing there.”

Erickson leads the team with 2 home runs after nine games; she didn’t hit any long balls last season. She hopes some of her success rubs off on her teammates sooner rather than later.

“I like to think that I am becoming more of a leader on and off the field,” she said. “I think as the season will progress we will all feed of each other in terms of how comfortable we are as a team. We are just working through some kinks right now.”

“We talk about having experience,” Looper said. “Expensive experience is experience that you go through so it costs you something. Inexpensive experience is somebody else going through it that you can feed off of and learn from. The team needs to do a good job of the inexpensive experience.”


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