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Softball hopes to show 'em

BY JORDAN HANSEN | APRIL 22, 2015 5:00 AM

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A year after shockingly sweeping then-No. 13 Missouri, the Iowa softball team will again try to pull off an upset tonight in Columbia, Missouri.

Missouri (31-10, 11-7 SEC) is ranked No. 20 this season and will be defending its home turf while in the midst of a thermonuclear-hot streak that has seen them win by run-rule in their last four games.

The Tigers on a stretch where they have won seven of eight and put up 70 runs while allowing just 18.

“We’ve got to take care of the little things,” Iowa head coach Marla Looper said. “We have to control what we can, and the outcome will be whatever it is, but we have to give ourselves a chance.”

Iowa has been better as of late well, winning back-to-back Big Ten series, but it has struggled in midweek games this season. The Hawks are 1-7 in games not played on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, a trend they’d like to buck.

“We have to approach the game the same no matter whom we’re playing, no matter when we’re playing, no matter where we’re playing,” shortstop Megan Blank said. “I think that just because we might have lost some of our midweek games early in the season, that shouldn’t have an effect on how we approach this one.”

However, doing that against a team that is top-half of a tough SEC in batting average and ERA won’t be easy. Missouri bats .323 as a team and boasts seven players with averages above .300. As a comparison, Iowa has just three.

As far as pitching goes, Iowa will likely see either Tori Finucane (17-6, 2.89 ERA) or Paige Lowary (13-3, 3.21 ERA) in the circle. Finucane has pitched 20 more innings than Lowary, but either pitcher will be a matchup headache for the Hawkeye’s batters.

If there is a real weakness for Missouri, it’s fielding — the Tigers rank near the bottom of the SEC in fielding percentage and have committed 49 errors.

“If they have a little chink in their armor, that might be exactly what it is,” Looper said. “They’re really good in the circle and really good offensively, and they can sometimes get by without being quite as good [on defense], but that’s going to be our challenge — to try to expose that little chink in their armor.”

If there’s one Iowa hitter who could expose that, it’ll likely be either Blank, who is on an 11-game hitting streak, or center-fielder Sammi Gyerman, who has reached base in 14-straight games.

The two have combined for 52 of Iowa’s 106 extra-base hits and 68 of the teams 188 RBIs.

“Every game we play, we have to put the ball in play and make plays on us, whether their track record is that they’re solid defensively or not so solid,” Blank said. “That’s our job, and if we do that, hopefully, things will fall our way.”

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


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