Iowa softball seeks attack mode


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Following its best weekend of the season, the Iowa softball team is on the offensive — hoping an aggressive approach will translate into more consistent results.

"I know we didn't do well the [previous] weekend," freshman Cheyenne Pratt said. "But then we tried to get a different mindset, going into and attacking each game."

The Hawkeyes snapped their eight-game losing streak in style at the Radisson Invitational over the weekend, notching a signature win 3-2 over no. 17 Central Florida on Feb. 27. That same day, they also knocked off Long Island-Brooklyn 10-2 in just five innings.

Now, after garnering much needed momentum, the Hawks are emphasizing an attack mentality in all phases of the game.

"The challenge … is having an attack mindset rather than a defensive mindset when they're hitting, and having an attack mindset with their defense," head coach Marla Looper said.

Although the team sputtered at times in the remainder of the weekend, losing 10-2 to Princeton, it closed the tournament out with a 2-0 win over Florida A&M.

The win over Central Florida was especially uplifting for the Hawks, one they hope will inspire confidence going forward.

"Being able to beat a ranked team kind of shows what we can do," senior Megan Blank said. "We're going in the right direction and it's exciting to see what this team can do."

Blank batted 4-9 in the tournament, bringing her season average up to .319.

Sophomore ace Shayla Starkenburg earned two wins on the weekend as well, bringing her record to 4-6 on the year. Although she gave up six hits and five walks to Central Florida, she came through in the clutch, as the Knights left nine runners on base in the contest.

"We've got the skills we need, it's just a matter of putting them together," Starkenburg said. "It's about getting those back-to-back hits to get the team pumped up, or on the mound eliminating walks and getting my fielders easy ground balls."

The losing streak encompassed all of the previous two weekends, with half of the losses coming by one run. Because of this, Looper expressed optimism in her team's tight win over the Knights.

"We talked about just turning a corner," Looper said. "We have the ability to play against anyone. They know that, but them living it is a different thing."

Surviving in close games figure to be pivotal going forward into Big Ten play, and has been a glaring weakness for the Hawkeyes this season. Even after the successful weekend, the team is still just 6-11. Looper is adamant her team's performance in Orlando is evidence her team can make up ground.

But for now, all the team can do is take things one practice, one game at a time. It is fitting, Looper claims, on the nature of a sport moving in a step-by-step flow.

"You can't get three outs without getting one," Looper said. "You can't score five runs without scoring one, you can't come back from eight runs by one swing…all of it is a step-by-step process."

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

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