Jan. 27, 2014
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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.
By JIL PRICE
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Shayla Starkenburg was all-everything as a prep at Ankeny High School. Following her redshirt season in 2013, University of Iowa head softball coach Marla Looper believes Starkenburg is ready to be an impact pitcher at the Division I level.
In high school, Starkenburg was a four-time all-state, four-time all-district and four-time first-team all-conference selection. As a senior in 2012, she was the Iowa 5A Pitcher of the Year after posting a 31-0 record in the circle and leading the state with a 0.58 ERA.
In her first season as a Hawkeye, Starkenburg sat and learned, and Looper believes that will pay dividends in 2014.
“Shayla redshirted last year to refine her pitching skills and to challenge herself in the mental game to be better than she was in high school,” Looper said. “She was a phenomenal high school pitcher, but we’ve gotten her to be phenomenal at Division I softball.”
“I knew it would be best for me and best for the team if I took a year to get to the Division I level and gain the strength I needed,” said Starkenburg. “I knew it would be beneficial to redshirt.”
Starkenburg did not take the field or throw a single pitch in a game last season, but she learned a lot about herself, her teammates, and the team’s opponents, turning a difficult experience into a positive one.
“It was very challenging because I knew this was the level I wanted to play, but I was not where I needed to be,” she said. “Being with the team was hard for me because I wanted to play, and I wanted to be out there with them.
“The team and the coaches were helpful, and I learned a lot. I had the opportunity to get to know the team and see the level of play I was going to be playing in this season. I also learned what the game really means to me.”
In 12 days, Starkenburg and the Hawkeyes will open the 2014 season at the South Carolina Classic in Columbia, S.C. Looper is excited to see Starkenburg’s hard work pay off and feels she is poised to have a breakout season.
“It’s going to be nice getting Shayla on the field,” Looper said. “She’s going to be someone that the Big Ten and the country will be impressed with. If she stays on track, she can have a season that will impact the Big Ten and can counter Kayla Massey well. I think Shayla is going to be someone that can have a breakout season.”
Starkenburg is excited to be back on the field and is willing to do whatever she can to help the team win in 2014.
“I think I can be more successful than I was in high school,” Starkenburg said. “I want Iowa to be more successful and for us to go further than we have before. I don’t want the best thing I’ve done to be winning a high school state championship. I want more … we want more.”
Iowa opens the season Feb. 7, playing a doubleheader against UNC Greensboro and South Carolina at 12:30 p.m. (CT) and 3 p.m., respectively.