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Defensive struggles continue against Nebraska

BY JORDAN HANSEN | MARCH 26, 2015 5:00 AM

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It has been a rough stretch defensively for the Hawkeyes and in two games against Nebraska, the pain didn’t stop — or even subside.

Iowa has given up 98 runs in its last 10 games, while only scoring 43 of their own and, predictably, things didn’t go a whole lot better against the Huskers.

The Hawkeyes were outscored 28-9 during the double-header and were mercy-ruled in both. While the Huskers do have one of the top offenses in the Big Ten, it still was not what Iowa head coach Marla Looper was looking for out of her team.

“We’ve got to pound the zone early and use it and not put to many on for free,” Looper said. “The Big Ten is a tough conference, and a lot of people don’t understand that — they’re going to get their runs.

“Michigan put up 42 runs last weekend; it’s football scores right now, and it’s all across the board.”

The first two innings of both games were especially rough for the Hawkeyes, who were without No. 1 starter Shayla Starkenburg. Looper declined comment on Starkenburg’s absence from the lineup.

Iowa gave up 6 runs in the first two innings in both of the games, putting itself in deep holes early.

It made it nearly impossible for Iowa to come back with bright spots few and far between. While the first game was mostly a lost cause, the second game of the series was a little closer. The Hawkeyes only trailed 7-6 in the third inning after home runs from freshmen Angela Schmiederer and Allie Wood.

“I was just ready for the pitch,” Wood said. “I wanted to get things done for the team and had an opportunity earlier to get things done for the team and I didn’t, so I wanted to make sure I got things done for them.”

However, Iowa’s defensive struggles continued during that second game, and after playing a solid fourth inning, freshman Ashley Yoways allowed the bases to get loaded and then gave up a grand slam.

Even worse for the Hawkeyes is the eyebrow-raising number of extra-base hits Nebraska had during the twin bill ­— 8 in the first game and 6 in the second game.

“We need to get the ball down in the zone a little bit,” Looper said. “When you put it mid-thigh to belt-high, they’re going to get good wood on it — our hitters do, too, and we need to get it a little lower so they’re hitting the top-half of the ball.”

While extra base hits are a combination of more than just one thing, three errors in this doubleheader did not help.

“We’ve been giving up a lot of hits as a defense and sometimes there’s not much you can do,” Blank said. “We each have to take that into offense and do as much as we can, control what we can — if we do that, it gives us a shot.”

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


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