Good, bad, and ugly for Iowa softball in first tournament


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CEDAR FALLS — In the five games that Iowa softball played this past weekend, the Hawkeyes saw a little bit of everything.

There was the good: a no-hitter by thrown by redshirt sophomore Shayla Starkenburg, a 12-4 win over host Northern Iowa, and another strong 6-0 win against Green Bay.

There was also the bad: a five-inning run-rule loss to North Dakota State and an ugly 8-0 loss to Drake that was called after the sixth inning.

More than anything, though, head coach Marla Looper felt it was a learning experience and was positive as she reflected on the team’s opening weekend.

“Growing from this weekend, the plus side is that we have something to work on and practice,” she said. “If we were perfect this weekend, we might get bored — we’re not going to be bored at practice.”

It was also not far from what Looper expected in their first games of the season, especially considering Iowa started three freshmen in all five games and freshman pitcher Ashley Yoways started two games on the mound.

Certainly, there were some youthful mistakes (Iowa had 6 errors during the weekend), but there is hope that those will diminish as the season progresses.

“They’re things that are fixable, adjustments and things that we can put into effect,” Looper said.

“The mistakes, the errors on the field — we can fix those. Too many walks, we can fix that. There’s nothing that’s not going to be able to be fixed.”

Throughout the weekend, Looper tried several different starting lineups, but kept the top of her batting order pretty much intact.

Right now, it seems the squad will start with Sammi Gyerman, Cheyenne Pratt, and Megan Blank, with cleanup duties being handled by either Whitney Repole or Allie Wood. Those five combined to hit a respectable .318 on the weekend.

However, the rest of lineup did not hit nearly as well, but Repole credits that to its being opening weekend more than anything else.

“I think it’s definitely a learning process, and coming in with younger girls is a factor,” Repole said. “But we’re all on board, and we’re all on the same page. Everyone’s talented, and everyone works hard — coming out here and getting those first at-bats, even those who are returners, to get it out of the way.

“It was a good opening weekend for us.”

Good but not great.

There is plenty of time for the team to develop with the most glaring issue being consistency. Going 3-2 on a weekend isn’t awful, but in a Big Ten Tournament setting, the Hawkeyes might be done before they can even get going.

The best defense against those highs and lows are to have a good offense, and while spotty this weekend, it will play a huge part in the team’s success this season.

“We have a lot of hitters on this team that can do damage; once we get in that groove I think it’ll be pretty fun to watch,” Blank said. “It just takes one person, honestly, if one person beats that pitcher, then that gets the dugout all pumped up, and that’s when you start passing the bat.

“It just takes one person.”

Follow @JordyHansen for news, updates, and analysis about the Iowa softball team.

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