May 20, 2013
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Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s May edition of Hawk Talk Monthly, the UI athletics department’s online publication.
IOWA CITY, Iowa – A key ingredient to the success of any team is unselfishness. Johnnie Dowling, a senior leader on the University of Iowa softball team, provided a clear example of this ingredient two summers ago.
Dowling made the transition at the plate from a right-handed hitter to a left-handed slapper following the 2011 season to utilize her speed.
UI head coach Marla Looper suggested the move, and Dowling jumped at it and put in significant work to improve her game.
“Coach Looper and coach (Stacy) May-Johnson discussed it and talked to me about it,” said Dowling. “It was a great decision to be able to utilize my speed on the left side and switch from a power hitter on the right side.
“I hit almost every single day from the left side. I needed to get my technique down. It was a whole different feel. It came a little easier to me than I thought it would, but it was definitely a lot of work.”
As Iowa’s leadoff hitter, the move allowed Dowling to take advantage of her extra gear.
“The biggest thing was her speed and athleticism,” said Looper, now in her third season. “Speed kills in our game. If you do not get on base though, it does not matter how fast you are. She had a lot of power from the right side, so she got on some, but her on-base percentage was not where we needed it to be for her to have an impact on the bases.
“She spent the summer really buying into it and understanding that the team needed that. It is frustrating, because this was a kid that was hitting some home runs. She has power. Now though, she is on base a lot more and understands the benefits of her switching to that side.”
The Des Moines, Iowa, native hit .216 with five home runs as a sophomore. Dowling hit .308 last season from the left side of the plate en route to third team All-Big Ten honors. She also had career highs in runs (35), hits (53) and walks (9). Dowling had 15 multi-hit games and led the team with a .381 average during conference play.
As a senior this season, Dowling set career highs in every offensive category and earned her second-straight All-Big Ten honor, as she was named to the second team.
It is safe to say she has had a definite impact on the bases.
“I am very pleased because she bought into it,” said Looper. “Her mentality was, `what can I do to help the team?’ She realized it needed to be done and was willing to take it on. You love team players like that, willing to sacrifice something they are already good at. To try something completely new half way through their college career and excel at it… not everyone has that ability, but she did not hesitate. Her athleticism and mindset allowed her to make that adjustment.”
“I am very happy,” Dowling said about the move. “Especially, with a hitter like Megan Blank behind me, all I have to do is get on base, and she hits me in.”
Dowling’s unselfishness helped pave the way for Hawkeye success.