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Softball Media Day: Iowa looks to ‘Blank’ out last season

BY JORDAN HANSEN | JANUARY 30, 2015 5:00 AM

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When asked about her goals for the season, Iowa’s Megan Blank didn’t talk about any personal goals, stats, or anything of the sort.

She wants a Big Ten championship.

It’s a long shot, for sure — the Iowa softball team is coming off one of its worst seasons since the 1980s — but Blank feels there are good vibes surrounding this season.

“Since coming back this winter, there’s been a lot of positivity — we kind of formed our identity in the week that we came back,” Blank said. “We want to be known as a gritty team that never gives up and a team that the opponents don’t want to face.

“When they leave the field, we want them to tip their hat and say, ‘Hey, that was a good game,’ and I think we’ve put in a lot of work to show that we’re gritty.”

Blank has been incredible during her time at Iowa, hitting .398 over the past three years with 18 home runs.

Head coach Marla Looper expects much of the same this season.

“I think she’s going to have a great senior year, and I know that’s what she wants. Thinking about it, wanting it, and actually doing it are all different things,” Looper said. “I think she’s ready to get on the horse and ride and kind of take the team on her back.

“She’s really stepped up more in a leadership sense, being more vocal than she’s ever been.”

Pitching staff shakeup

With Iowa having graduated pitcher Kayla Massey last year and Micaela Whitney transferring to Creighton, the pitching staff is in a bit of a flux.

Currently, Iowa has three pitchers on its roster: redshirt sophomore Shayla Starkenburg, transfer Jillian Navarrete, and freshman Ashley Yoways.

All three seek to contribute this season, and with Starkenburg being the only returner, the position looks to be fairly wide open.

“I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to work with Coach Looper — she’s given me a lot of tips and tricks, and I think I’ve improved a lot,” Yoways said. “I’m really excited to get out on the field and show what I have.”

Gyerman back

Eleven games into last season, outfielder Sammi Gyerman suffered an injury and missed the rest of the year.

While any injury is bad, Gyerman was starting to come into her own as a player — she was hiting .296 with 2 triples to go along with solid fielding.

After she was granted a medical redshirt for last season, she’s back healthy and ready to contribute this season.

“It’s great to be back; everyone knows that coming off injuries is something to overcome, but it’s great being back with my team,” she said. “Sitting on the sidelines is certainly not something I wanted to do any of my four years, but it’s great to be back, I’m excited.”


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