Iowa offense takes control of Missouri

BY JACK ROSSI | APRIL 17, 2014 5:00 AM

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The Hawkeye bats are alive and well. Only time will tell if the remedy Iowa found Wednesday will last, but its offense was enough to give the Hawkeyes back-to-back victories against the nations’ No. 13 team.

Head coach Marla Looper has been wondering where her offense has been in the past few weeks. The Hawks had trouble scoring amid their six-game losing streak, suffering three shutouts over that span.

Iowa (12-23) prevailed against Missouri (32-12) in both games of their twin bill winning the first game, 3-1 in a pitcher’s duel and exploding for 13 runs in the second game to beat the Tigers, 13-9.

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“I thought everybody was in a rhythm today and everyone was making good contact. We just fed off each other’s energy,” freshman first baseman Kaitlyn Mullarkey said. “We needed to be aggressive, want to hit, execute the signs, and everybody did her job today, like being smart and selective at what pitches they swing at.”

The Hawkeyes finished the first game in 84 minutes, an impressive time for a softball game. The Iowa offense set the pace early and kept it that way the whole game with the help of pitcher Kayla Massey throwing seven strong innings.

But the offense setting the pace has been tough to accomplish so far. When the Hawkeyes are swinging effectively, they can compete with anybody.

“We definitely did [set a pace today]. I think when you get the middle to bottom of your lineup producing like they did today then, it makes things easier,” Looper said. “When you rely on just the top only, and the middle and bottom don’t do anything, then it’s hard, but they were getting on to allow the next person to hit them in. We did a better job of executing the small ball today.”

The Hawkeyes needed players to step up and produce. A few players did so against the Tigers.

Mullarkey had been struggling at the plate recently, hitting .156 in 32 plate appearances for the Hawks. She may have turned a corner, going 4-for-6 from the plate in both games including her first career home run, which sailed over the right field wall.

“It was pretty cool. I’ve been struggling a lot offensively and have been making adjustments,” Mullarkey said. “I’ve been late a lot so I’ve been trying to get earlier on the ball and hit it more out front to pull the ball.”

Whitney Repole hit her second home run of the season. She has been flying under the radar lately and the sophomore exploded at the dish going 4-for-6 with 4 RBIs. The San Antonio native suggested that preparation this week was the mentality at the plate, and it appears that something may have clicked for Iowa.

The last time Iowa hit numerous dingers in a game was April 28, 2013, against Penn State. The Hawks also won that game.

“This week, we were just focusing on our approach at the plate and being smart hitters,” Repole said. “Then taking advantage of pitches that we hit well. We’ve been locking in on that.”

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