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Softball tries to end slump in Tucson

BY JACK ROSSI | FEBRUARY 28, 2014 5:00 AM

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The Iowa softball team is off to a rough start. Offensive production has stalled, and while the season is still young, it’s a cause for concern. The Hawkeyes will look for someone to step up this weekend when the squad heads to the Wildcat Invitational.

“When you don’t score and you give up runs, you dig yourself a hole, and that was the challenge last weekend,” head coach Marla Looper said. “We’re a much better ball club than what we’re putting on the field right now.”

The team’s struggles have opened the door for freshman Claire Fritsch to make a name for herself. The Round Rock, Texas, native has worked herself into the leadoff spot in the lineup last weekend — a spot that has been a question mark for the team so far this season.

“Our leadoff spot has been pretty up in the air, but from things I’ve seen from her so far this year, I think that she could be a good, solid leadoff if she stays consistent,” junior Megan Blank said. “She’s pretty good at putting the ball in play and making things happen, and that’s what you need in a leadoff hitter.”

While recruiting players in Texas, the coaching staff came across Fritsch while scouting some of her teammates. They saw Fritsch outperform the player they had originally come to recruit, and when it was all over, she accepted her first offer from Iowa.

“In recruiting, we felt that she should be able to come in and be an impact player,” Looper said. “There are still some areas she has to be better at, but she’s got some God-given talent that allows her to go out and play the game.”

Fritsch has had an effect. She leads the team in batting average at .360, and although she has never batted in the leadoff spot in college, she hopes she will be able to keep it this weekend and solidify a position in the batting order.

“In high school, I hit in the 2 hole for three years and then batted cleanup my senior year …” she said. “I’d love to be back in the leadoff spot but I am comfortable anywhere in the lineup.”

Looper hopes that another player steps up, given the amount of talent already on the roster and try to end the unlucky streak.

“It’s just going to take one person stepping up at the right time, and at any point, it could be anyone,” Looper said.

The Hawks are still in the nonconference season, but Looper has said these games right now mean just as much as conference play to her. The urgency to put it all together is more and more urgent, and they see an opportunity starting today against Valparaiso.

“Our opportunity this weekend is great,” Looper said. “The weather looks like it will hold out for us and not be monsoon weather so, that’s nice when you head to Arizona and not get rained out. We’ve got the ability and potential to be really good, but that means we’ve got to get something done.”


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