Aug. 10, 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 — University of Iowa shortstop Megan Blank made quite a name for herself during her freshman campaign in 2012. To say she avoided the dreaded sophomore slump in 2013 would be quite an understatement.
During her rookie campaign, the Culver City, Calif., native became the ninth freshman in school history to garner first team All-Big Ten honors and all-region honors.
She followed that up with a big sophomore season, hitting .437 to set Iowa’s single season record. Her career average is .413, also marking the highest in program history. Blank’s 59 RBIs and 11 home runs marked the second and third-highest single season totals in program history.
Blank earned her second-straight first team All-Big Ten accolade and was named an NFCA First Team All-Midwest Region selection, earning her second all-region honor in as many seasons. She is the sixth Hawkeye in program history to garner all-region honors in each of her first two seasons.
To put it quite simply… she’s good.
“Megan is a very good player,” said UI head coach Marla Looper. “The challenge for Megan every year is to reinvent herself enough so the opponent does not get the best of her, and then to become a great player and put herself on the banners with the other greats of Iowa softball.
“That does not come easy. Every year so far, she has been able to reinvent herself; she did not have a sophomore slump. Sophomore slumps are not slumps — it is the opponent figuring out who you are and knowing how to handle you. Teams started to pitch around Megan and made her teammates beat them, and that is a sign of respect.”
Last offseason, Blank worked on hitting with more power.
“Prior to last season, I focused on how to become more of a power hitter,” said Blank, one of six sophomores invited to the 2013 USA Softball Women’s National Team Selection Camp. “Coach Johnson worked with me a lot. I tweaked my swing a little bit to something that I felt produced a little more power.”
“She worked hard in trying to gain more power over the summer, adjusting her swing slightly to provide that,” said Looper. “She was more of a slapper when she came to Iowa, and hit the ball in the gaps. Now, she has added that power piece and is a threat in a lot of different ways.”
Her work paid off, as her power totals increased dramatically. She had two home runs and 29 RBIs in 2012, before registering 11 home runs and 59 RBIs in 2013.
The next step is to take her game to the next level.
“Megan has had a successful beginning to her offensive career at Iowa, but she is far from reaching her peak,” said UI hitting coach Stacy May-Johnson — the 2011 USA Softball Female Athlete of the Year. “She made a big jump in her power game over the last year, and I would expect her to steadily continue to improve her power hitting over the next two years.
“She will also need to improve her ability to hit elite pitching. She has had some success hitting good collegiate pitching, but Megan needs to prove that she can hit the best pitching in the game consistently and with power. Although Megan has all of the physical tools to do this, her mental game will be a huge factor in her ability to execute at the highest level.”
“She can become a great player, offensively and defensively, if she continues to become that field general and to help her teammates rise to her level,” said Looper.