Moving in the Right Direction

June 21, 2013

Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s June edition of Hawk Talk Monthly, the UI athletics department’s online publication.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The arrow is pointing up for the University of Iowa softball team. The Hawkeyes went 30-24 this season, posting the most wins since finishing 42-16 in 2009.

“Overall, I was pleased but not satisfied,” said UI head coach Marla Looper about the 2013 campaign. “We are making moves in the right direction.”

The Hawkeyes started fast out of the gate, jumping out to a 19-8 mark with five top-25 victories before the start of conference play.

“We started with a very challenging nonconference schedule, and excelled during it,” said Looper. “It was exciting to see and gave us a lot of confidence going into a tough conference season. During the preseason we did not back down from anything.”

The conference schedule did the Hawkeyes no favors either. In its first five series, Iowa faced the teams that finished one through five in the final Big Ten standings.

“We had one of the toughest conference schedules in the Big Ten this year,” said Looper. “It was definitely a challenge, and we put ourselves in a tough spot. We stumbled but turned it on and finished strong.

“I am proud of the girls for not cashing it in and giving up on the season. They continued to fight.”

“It is a building process and the team has bought into the culture and system moving forward. The future is bright.”
— UI head coach Marla Looper

The Hawkeyes finished strong, matching a season best with a five-game winning streak to end the regular season, but came up just short of the NCAA Tournament despite an RPI of 34 nationally.

“We are disappointed we did not get a bid into the NCAA Tournament,” said Looper. “You have to look at the entire body of work, and I thought we set ourselves up very well. The team propelled us into an area we have not been in a while. It should be clear cut as to why we did not get in, and it is not.

“There is frustration, but we cannot dwell on it. We have to make sure we change that sting we feel going forward.”

NCAA Tournament or not, the Hawkeyes are back in the national discussion.

“The team kept talking about putting Iowa back on the map, and they did a really nice job of that,” said Looper. “I got a lot of comments from respected coaches around the country, saying our team is fun to watch, gritty and good. You did not need affirmation from people, but sometimes it is helpful when you are growing as a program and trying to build it back up to where it used to be.

“I am happy we got to 30 wins, but not satisfied because that is not where this program needs to be. But it is a step in the right direction. It is a building process and the team has bought into the culture and system moving forward. The future is bright.”