Softball Making Progress, With Time to Make More

Oct. 29, 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 — The University of Iowa softball team concluded fall action last week, and the Hawkeyes, admittedly, are not where they want to be. That is OK though; there is plenty of time for improvement heading into the spring season.

“We have not met the expectations we have set, yet,” said third year UI head coach Marla Looper about the team’s fall play. “That could be a positive, in that we have that high of expectations.”

Iowa concluded the 2012 season 27-26 overall and finished runner-up in the Big Ten with a 16-8 league mark. Expectations were, and still are, high heading into the 2013 season.

“The negative is that our expectations were not met,” said Looper. “The positive is that we had that high of expectations going into it. We have plenty of time to get there.

“In the spring time, our expectations will be even higher than what they were for this fall.”

Iowa opened the fall with its annual Black & Gold Scrimmage before competing in the Big Four Classic in Cedar Falls, Iowa. The Hawkeyes won four of their final five contests at Pearl Field before holding the Grey-Gold World Series.

Seven freshmen joined a Hawkeye roster this season that returned 16 letterwinners from a year ago, including seven positional starters and both starting pitchers.

“The team is starting to form,” said Looper. “They are starting to get to know each other and are getting more comfortable with each other.”

The head Hawkeye pointed out other encouraging signs from the fall.

“We had a lot of positives,” said Looper. “Our pitching staff did a nice job. Micaela (Whitney) getting in there, and learning some things about how much faster this game is and how much better the hitters are, one through nine.

“Our catchers got more time behind the plate. They are all jumping in there after a veteran was there for four years. They are learning and putting time in behind the dish.”

The games are a nice way for the team, and individuals, to see where they stand. Now the team is back to individual workouts. Now is the time to push. There are no games. It is solely a time to work hard to improve.

“The games are to see where we are at, and where we need to improve moving forward,” said Looper.

With no more games until the spring, a crucial time lies ahead.

“Now that we are back to individuals, we are seeing the mindset of, ‘OK, I have to get better. They are a little more open minded right now. When you have games, the mindset for some is to get better for that game; but we need to be better no matter what.”

Time with the coaches is limited for the student-athletes now due to NCAA regulations. It presents a challenge for them to improve on their own.

“It is a key time for them to get better,” said Looper. “It is a challenge to get better without coaches around. That is what we teach them to do, become their own coach.

“We are going to give them the tools, but they are the ones that feel that progress. Once you feel it, the sky is the limit. You can make any adjustment.

“Part of it is getting better in the weight room, gaining strength, speed and agility, and becoming more athletic, which will help us on the field. Exposing weaknesses, and not allowing them to be weak anymore.”

The student-athletes will be counted on to hold themselves accountable during the remaining weeks until the spring slate begins.

“We have to teach them to be their own coach at times, because we are not with them 24-7,” said Looper. “Everyone has to step up and hold each other accountable to make everyone better.”