Gyerman's offensive surge much needed for Hawks


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With Iowa softball ranking at or near the bottom of the Big Ten in every major offensive category, Sammi Gyerman’s big weekend couldn’t have come soon enough.

Entering the April 2 game with Western Illinois, the redshirt sophomore was second on the team with a .308 batting average. Over the course of the next three games, that average rose to .348 heading into Sunday’s 12-7 loss to Illinois.

“It’s awesome to see her having success,” senior Megan Blank said. “She’s been working hard the last three years she’s been here; to see that pay off is definitely awesome.”

In that stretch, the center fielder went 10-for-13 with 9 RBIs. Her weekend was highlighted by a 4-for-4 performance on April 3 in which she hit for the cycle and tallied a career-high 6 RBIs.

Gyerman got off to a blazing start to the season but cooled down a bit in recent weeks, a decline that head coach Marla Looper attributes to the mounting pressures of a struggling offense.

“I think sometimes when you start to get hot, you expect it, but not just expect it you want to make it happen,” Looper said. “The less she tries to make it happen, the more apt she’s going to be to let it happen.

“That’s what she’s done when she got hot again is just kind of relax and not force the issue on pitches maybe she shouldn’t be swinging at.” 

If that’s the truth, she’s relaxed quite a bit. Her rebound in production, however, may be little more than an adjustment in her swing.

“They’ve definitely talked to me about staying more relaxed in the box, that I look too hyped,” Gyerman said. “So I’ve definitely been working on just keeping my swing at a seven out of 10, because when I’m at a 10 out of 10 is when I tend to over swing and strike out.”

In other words, she’s not trying to crush every pitch she sees — and it’s paying off.

Her 28 RBIs this season leads the team, as do her 6 steals. Gyerman has become an essential contributor to an offense that produces fewer runs than all but one team in the conference, Wisconsin.

The San Pedro, California, native’s hitting and base-running skills of leads the Hawks in runs with 29.

Her re-emergence over the weekend gives the Hawks a viable second fiddle to the brilliance of Blank, who leads the team in almost every offensive statistic.

Gyerman ranks second to Blank in average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage — and with 2 walks in Sunday’s loss is tied with Blank and junior Erin Erickson at 14.

Although the Hawkeyes lost two of three to the Fighting Illini this past weekend, the offense did its job — putting up 29 runs.

And with the highest team ERA in the league, the Hawkeyes will need to continue the offensive output to climb out of the depths of the Big Ten standings.

“It’s honestly one of the best feelings knowing that you don’t have to do it by yourself, that if you don’t get it done one at-bat, there’s some one else right behind you that’s going to have success.”

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

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