Catchers splitting time as Iowa looks at defensive lineups


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When Iowa heads to Gainesville, Florida, this weekend to play the defending champion Florida and North Carolina, the team will do more than try to pull an upset — it will also try to fine-tune its defensive lineup.

Through the team’s first five games, head coach Marla Looper and her coaching staff have made the biggest moves at catcher.

Junior Holly Hoffman, who has had the job locked down since 2013, started three games, and freshman Angela Schmiederer started two.

“I wouldn’t consider it a competition,” Hoffman said. “I mean, I absolutely don’t mind sharing playing time, you know. It’s easier on my body, and it means we’re both fresh heading into the game. Double-headers can be tough, but I wouldn’t really call it a competition.”

However, Looper did not say they weren’t in competition for playing time. There might still be opportunity for movement in the depth chart, she said.

“If we can keep people fresher, longer, we’re better off, but if one of them steps up and becomes an offensive threat, and we can’t afford to take her out, she might see more playing time than an even split,” Looper said. “We don’t go into the season saying, ‘This is the only way we do things.’ ”

In-house competition or not, if the Hawkeyes end up having two catchers who can be relied on, it could end up being a major boost for the program.

It’s a good situation to be in, but it also seems as if Looper is looking for the Hawks to raise their performances at the plate.

“We haven’t necessarily had the luxury of having numerous catchers that can catch in a ball game and have success and help our team,” Looper said. “Now we are in that spot, and we’re still trying to see which is our best fit, because right now neither is outshining the other offensively.”

Hoffman does have a slight advantage in batting average and fielding percentage, but that hasn’t dissuaded Schmiederer.

If anything, she feels that the competition has brought out the best in her.

“Obviously, it’s a competition; that’s what we’re here for, but I think Holly and I complement each other very well,” Schmiederer said. “Right now, it’s just we’re working to push each other harder. She’s trying to make me better, and I’m trying to make her be better as well.”

Whether they will split time at this weekend’s tournament in Florida is unknown, but as Iowa does have a double-header on Saturday, Looper may very well continue to give Schmiederer looks as well.

The lineup is still in a bit of a flux, and while the three games this weekend aren’t all that many, it should shed a little more light on what the coaching staff has in mind behind home plate.

“I’m just expecting to play softball,” Schmiederer said. “Whoever’s out there is out there is going to be out there and do a great job. I’m just taking it one step at a time.”

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

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