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Notebook: Erickson leads defense

BY JORDAN HANSEN | APRIL 09, 2015 5:00 AM

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As the season rolls along, it’s become more and more obvious that versatile junior Erin Erickson is one of the Hawkeye softball team’s most valuable defenders. She’s played extensively in 40 of Iowa’s 42 games this year, has only committed 3 errors and owns an impressive .982 fielding percentage.

That, however, isn’t the only part of her defensive game that the team has found important this season.

“I’m more of a vocal leader; I want to push people to be the best that they can defensively,” Erickson said. “It’s the same offensively; I want to score runs, I want to get hits when we want to and when we need to.”

On a team that is relatively full of youth, she is known to lead many of the drills in practice and is someone the younger players look up to.

It is not a rare sight to see her hollering on defense, and while her offense isn’t quite where she wants it this year — she’s hitting just .214 in Big Ten play — Erickson still feels her game is still more than formidable.

“I see right now that defense is one of my stronger fields, but I still consider myself just as good of an offensive player as I am a defensive player,” Erickson said. “I don’t think I’ve gotten the breaks I wanted at the plate this year.”

Listed at outfield/first base on the team’s official roster, Erickson’s readiness to be a utility player is something Iowa head coach Marla Looper likes quite a bit.

“She can transition, and we don’t miss a beat,” Looper said. “She’s been at first base, we threw her in the outfield after Allie Wood went down the other day, and she’s done that for us since her freshman year, and I think that’s a nice thing.”

Leadoff still in flux

Freshmen Claire Fritsch and Cheyenne Pratt have combined for 78 starts this year and both have spent time in the leadoff spot.

Fritsch has been at the top of the order recently, and Pratt has been in the nine-hole, something Looper says is a calculated move.

“As the game goes on, there’s no longer a leadoff and nine-hole,” Looper said. “Yeah, your nine-hole probably doesn’t get near as many chances as your leadoff, but it becomes another table-setter.

“Back in tee-ball, I think their nine-hole was their worst hitter — well, not anymore. That nine-hole needs to be someone who can be a table-setter.”

For Fritsch and Pratt, their feelings on where they sit in the lineup are clear.

“I don’t care where I’m hitting,” Pratt said. “Whether I’m in the third spot or the ninth spot or the first spot, it doesn’t matter. I’m in the lineup, and that’s what I’ve been working toward. Coach Adam [Arbour] will make that decision, and whatever he does is the right decision.”

Wood update

On April 3, in the first game of a series with Illinois, Iowa freshman Allie Wood took a pitch to kneecap and has not played since.

She’s started 39 games for Iowa this year, belting 4 home runs and 14 RBIs.

While it’s not for certain when she’ll be back, Looper is hoping sooner rather than later.

“It’s day-by-day, just seeing how the body continues to mend itself,” Looper said. “We’d like to have her by the weekend, but I don’t have a crystal ball.”

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


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