March 28, 2013
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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 — Megan Blank enjoyed one of the most celebrated freshman seasons in the history of the University of Iowa softball program in 2012, and she is picking up where she left off.
The sophomore leads the Big Ten with 38 RBIs and is 15th nationally in RBIs per game (1.27). She ranks tied for third in the league in doubles (nine), eighth in total bases (62), slugging percentage (.674) and hits, ninth in home runs (five) and 10th in on-base percentage (.482).
A year ago, Blank became the ninth player in school history to garner first team All-Big Ten honors as a freshman, and the ninth to earn all-region recognition as a freshman.
The Culver City, Calif., native was an NFCA Second Team All-Midwest region selection. She started all 53 games at shortstop and led the team with a .390 batting average with 34 runs and 29 RBIs. Blank turned in a team-best 24 extra base hits with 17 doubles, five triples and two home runs. The 17 doubles are tied for fourth in the Iowa record books, the triples are tied for eighth and the batting average is tied for 10th.
Often times, a ‘sophomore slump’ follows a successful rookie campaign. Not for Blank.
“Last year, my swing was more contact-oriented,” said Blank. “Over the summer and in the fall, I worked with coach Stacy (May-Johnson) on developing more power within my swing. I tweaked it a little bit.
“I worked on turning on inside pitches. Last season, I was not as productive on inside pitches. I have improved on that and overall power.”
The tweaks have worked out for Blank and the Iowa offense.
Blank, hitting a team-best .391, has 11 multi-hit and 12 multi-RBI games. She earned her first career Big Ten Player of the Week honor March 4 and has led Iowa to five top-25 victories (No. 11 Louisville, No. 11 Louisiana-Lafayette, No. 15 Stanford, No. 21 Kentucky, No. 24 Oregon State).
“When Megan wants to make contact and hit a pitch, she is going to find a way to do that,” said UI head coach Marla Looper. “Not everyone can do that. She is very confident in her ability to swing at the pitches she wants. She has done a better job on the inside part of the plate this season.”
“As a team, we want to win the Big Ten championship. We will do our best to go at every team, every weekend, one game at a time, one inning at a time. If we do what we know we can do, good things will happen.”
— Sophomore Megan Blank
Big Ten opponents have seen a lot of Blank, and may look to pitch to her differently, or not at all.
“Moving into Big Ten play, teams will stop throwing to her some,” said Looper. “They did a little bit last weekend in certain situations. She has to take advantage of the times they do throw to her and make it hurt a little bit.
“You see defensive pitching against Megan, opposed to pitchers going right at her and challenging her. It is fun to see as a coach, because you know you have someone people are afraid of, but it is frustrating because she is the one you want swinging a bat.”
Blank’s success at the plate will be crucial to the Hawkeyes’ success during league play.
“As a team, we want to win the Big Ten championship,” said Blank. “We will do our best to go at every team, every weekend, one game at a time, one inning at a time. If we do what we know we can do, good things will happen.”
Blank and the Hawkeyes host Wisconsin in a three-game series beginning at 4 p.m. on Friday. Iowa and Wisconsin will conclude the set with a doubleheader on Saturday. Start times are scheduled for 1 and 3 p.m. All games will be played at Pearl Field in Iowa City. Admission to Pearl Field is $5 for adults. There is no charge for youth (high school age and younger) or UI students with a valid student ID.