Who's on First?

Feb. 10, 2012

Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Senior Katie Keim will do whatever is necessary for the betterment of the University of Iowa softball team… even if it means taking on a new position for the third straight season.

Keim started 43 games at third base as a freshman and 46 games between third base (24), shortstop (13) and second base (nine) as a sophomore. Last season, the Missouri native earned third team All-Big Ten honors as the Hawkeyes’ second baseman, starting 48 contests.

One would envision Keim being penciled in as one of Iowa’s middle infielders for her senior season. Think again.

Keim has shifted one spot to the left — to first base — for the 2012 campaign to fill the final piece to the infield puzzle.

“I am excited to take on a new challenge,” said Keim, one of two seniors on the Iowa roster. “This is for the team, and I’ll do anything for the team. Wherever the coaches need me, I can play, and I’ll try my best in any position they put me in.”

“I am excited to take on a new challenge. This is for the team, and I’ll do anything for the team. Wherever the coaches need me, I can play, and I’ll try my best in any position they put me in.”
UI senior Katie Keim

UI head coach Marla Looper said Keim’s shift was the result of wanting to put the best lineup on the field.

“For her to be on the field, we had to find a spot,” said Looper. “When we placed everyone else in the puzzle, that’s where she ended up.”

Looper says Keim has adjusted nicely to the position change, but it wasn’t immediate.

“It took some time,” she said. “This fall was a little shaky, but that’s what you can expect when you learn something new. She’s definitely gained a little bit of confidence and walks with a little bit of swagger now.

“The biggest thing is she is versatile, has experience and plays the game. She doesn’t over think it and reacts well. When you have that, it is the perfect combination for an athlete. When you have that athleticism and leadership, it’s the perfect shift. It fits the puzzle of our team right now.”

Keim is to build on the offensive surge she displayed at the plate during the final month of the 2011 season. After hitting a shade over .200 for the first month, Keim finished the season as one of Iowa’s top hitters. She posted a .313 average with nine multi-hit contests over the final 23 games.

During a five-game stretch in April, she had nine hits in 17 at-bats for a .529 average. She finished the season with a .270 average with four home runs and 11 extra base hits.

Keim said the second half surge was due to increased confidence, and she’s trying to carry over that state-of-mind into the 2012 season.

“I needed to boost my confidence,” said Keim. “I have been putting in the work in practice and keeping that same course of thought. Hitting is 99 percent mental.”

Keim is excited to open the 2012 season today at the Getterman Classic in Waco, Texas. The Hawkeyes play Wichita State at 12:30 p.m. in their season-opener before squaring off against seventh-ranked Baylor at 7:30 p.m.

“It is surprising that it is my last year,” said Keim. “It’s kind of scary, but I’m excited. We’re ready to start playing. The entire team is ready, and I have a lot of confidence in our team.”