March 10, 2015
- Read the March issue of Hawk Talk Monthly
- 2015 Media Guide
- Download your Iowa Hawkeye iPad/iPhone app!
- Download your Iowa Hawkeye Android app!
- Big Ten Network: Free Hawkeye Video
- 24 Hawkeyes to Watch
- Download your Hawk Talk Monthly iOS app
- Download your Hawk Talk Monthly android app
Editor’s note: 24 Hawkeyes to Watch is a feature released Monday, Aug. 4, highlighting one athlete from each of the 24 intercollegiate sports offered by the University of Iowa. More than 700 talented student-athletes are currently busy preparing for the 2014-15 athletics year at the UI. Hawkeyesports.com will introduce you to 24 Hawkeyes who, for one reason or another, are poised to play a prominent role in the intercollegiate athletics program at the UI in the coming year.
By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Megan Blank doesn’t know much about New York Yankees great Lou Gehrig, but the two have a lot in common.
Blank is a senior shortstop on the University of Iowa softball team; Gehrig played 17 seasons of Major League baseball. While both have proven themselves at the plate (Blank is a career .394 hitter, Gehrig batted .340), their stamina and consistency sets them apart.
Gehrig, the Iron Horse, played 2,130 consecutive games; Blank, the Iron Hawkeye, has a current streak of 176 games in a row.
“It has crossed my mind and I have noticed it,” Blank said about her consecutive games-played streak. “It is a cool thing to be able to say. It’s nice to be productive when you first step on campus. That’s something I have been proud of.”
Blank is from Culver City, California, but her family roots are in Iowa. Her parents, James and Marcia, are University of Iowa alumni, and her father’s family is from Iowa City. During the Hawkeyes’ Rose Bowl appearance in 1986, James and friends attended the game and basked in the Southern California weather.
“He came back and told my mom we need to get out of the cold and go to California,” Megan said.
And they did, all the while maintaining their allegiance to the Hawkeyes.
“Growing up a Hawk fan on the West Coast is kind of different than all the home-grown Iowans,” Blank said. “I still feel that same connection that other girls on the team who are from Iowa feel. Having that family tie is something not everyone has, and it is cool to be a Hawkeye from the West Coast. The Blank family heart is in Iowa.”
Blank played baseball throughout Little League, often being the only girl on the team. She switched to softball by the time she was a teenager.
“My dad said these boys are getting pretty big and I was still pretty small,” Blank said.
When Blank was a child, neighbors learned quickly to keep expensive vehicles out of sight when Megan and her brother were playing in the street. One day Megan and JD were playing catch and hitting ground balls. A neighbor’s friend parked their shiny red sports car at the end of the cul-de-sac. It wasn’t long before Megan sent a ball straight into the car’s windshield.
“Growing up a Hawk fan on the West Coast is kind of different than all the home-grown Iowans. I still feel that same connection that other girls on the team who are from Iowa feel. Having that family tie is something not everyone has, and it is cool to be a Hawkeye from the West Coast. The Blank family heart is in Iowa.”
UI senior shortstop
“Our mom made us pay out of our allowance, but they still let us play in the street,” Blank said.
That might have laid the foundation for playing through anything, regardless of the situation.
In high school, Blank was a four-time All-California Interscholastic Federation selection, including first-team honors as a sophomore, junior, and senior. The three-time team captain was named second-team all-region by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association.
“She goes out and exudes what a true ball player should be, that passion oozes out of her,” UI head coach Marla Looper said. “She has skills that are hard to teach, especially when people get to be 18, 19, 20 years old. It’s from a long time ago.”
When Blank arrived at the UI, she was an immediate and reliable contributor. She batted .390 with 17 doubles and five triples in 53 games as a freshman in 2012 and topped that as a sophomore, hitting .437 with 11 home runs and 59 RBIs in 54 games. Last season in 47 games, Blank batted .361. She is a three-time first-team All-Big Ten performer and was named NFCA First-Team All-Midwest Region once and to the second team twice. After her sophomore season, Blank was named third-team All-America by College Sports Madness.
The Hawkeyes are off to a 7-15 start to the 2015 season. Blank leads the team with a .371 average, 23 hits, and 13 RBI.
And in four seasons, her consecutive-start string is intact.
“She earns it every day,” Looper said. “That’s one thing we talk about in our program: you come to practice every day and you earn your opportunities and she has done that. She has proven that she is an anchor for our program.”
In Iowa’s 2-0 win against Florida A&M on March 1, Blank went 1-for 2 with a double, walk, and two runs scored. She followed that with a five-game run at the Judi Garman Classic in Fullerton, California, where she batted .533 (8-of-15) with two doubles, home run, and four RBIs.
Validating her all-around skills, Blank has a .951 fielding percentage for her career and was named to the All-Big Ten Defensive Team as a junior.
“I attribute that to when I was little I would grab a tennis ball and throw it against a garage door for hours on end,” Blank said. “I was out there for as long as I could, until my parents yelled at me to come inside. That is what I did for fun. It is a lot of fun to make some pretty cool plays.”
Blank is majoring in sport management with minors in psychology and sport studies. If a career with a National Pro Fastpitch team isn’t in the works, she would like to play softball in Europe. After softball, Blank would like to coach.