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Notebook: Iowa happy to have some practice time

BY JORDAN HANSEN | APRIL 30, 2015 5:00 AM

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For the Iowa softball team, full weeks of practice have been hard to come by this season.

The Hawkeyes have played six midweek games since Big Ten play started and have only had one full week of practice in that time period. Because of this, head coach Marla Looper is happy to finally have some time to work.

“When it’s not a rushed hurry to get ready for an opponent and then we play them and try to get ready for another opponent, you don’t get a lot of reps to do that,” Looper said. “That’s what a nice long week allows you to do — we don’t have to cram it all in one practice.”

More than anything, the ability to get more than one repetition of a certain drill is a major positive for Iowa. It’s something Looper feels her team hasn’t had a lot of time to do this season and the extra reps are something that she sees as a major positive for the team.

The weekend series against Northwestern will be the Hawkeyes last regular-season games of the year and practicing at home all week is something that center fielder Sammi Gyerman says should help.

“It’s just so nice being on our field and having a whole week on our field and being able to be comfortable,” Gyerman said. “It’s going to be really nice.”

Being a northern school, Iowa faces some issues finding teams to play, which leads to the midweek games that cut practice times short.

They also have to play a majority of the front half of their schedule on the road, meaning that if they want to play any home games they have to be midweek ones.

To further complicate the issue, they have to make agreements with those same teams, which will sometimes involve hopping in a bus and going to play midweek games somewhere in the Midwest.

“It’s kind of the beast in the picture,” Looper said. “You look at a school like Arizona State or a Florida or a school in the south or the west — they can play 90 percent of their games at home.
“That’s a luxury whereas we play maybe 10 percent of our games at home. To us, that 10 percent is a luxury.”

Takeaways from Minnesota

Iowa had a rough go against the Golden Gophers, failing to plate a single run during the three-game series.

However, that was just one of Iowa’s issues during the game. Sophomore starting pitcher Shayla Starkenburg also struggled during the two games she pitched, giving up 17 earned runs in just eight innings pitched.

“The biggest thing I took away from the weekend was that I just need to hit my spots more,” Starkenburg said. “I need to work more locations and just get the ball down into the zone so I can make the defense work.”

Not a lot of thievery

Dead last in the Big Ten in stolen base attempts, it’s no secret Iowa rarely makes a play for an extra bag.

They’ve attempted just 21 steals this year, though they’ve been successful in the small sample size and have only been caught four times.

“If we had a little more speed — I’m talking milliseconds — we’d probably do it more often,” Looper said. “Unfortunately depending on the situation, if we get down in a game the last thing I want to do is get them thrown out after we finally get them on base.

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


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