Hawkeyes Use Break to Refocus, Recharge

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IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa softball team does not typically have a weekend break this early in the year, but this season, that break comes at the perfect time.
The Hawkeyes competed in two tournaments — one in San Marcos, Texas, and one in Atlanta — during the first two weeks of the season. Now, they will use a weekend off and some unusually warm February weather to slow things down.
“The nice thing about the break is we get to spread out,” said UI head coach Marla Looper. “We don’t feel like we are racing to accomplish our goals in a day and a half. We have a few days to really slow it down, regroup, re-energize, and recharge.”
Part of slowing down the week includes returning to the basics of the game. The Hawkeyes have been able to focus on technique.
“Being outside and having this break has been great,” said Looper. “We’re just getting back to the little things offensively, defensively, and in the circle. We are trying to find ways to tighten up those little things that we need to work on.
“All the way around, there’s always something little that we can fix. We’ve been doing the little things pretty well in practice; it’s just a matter of transitioning that to the game when the heat’s on. We’re right there. We’re right on the cusp.”
Although the first two tournaments were challenging, Iowa looks to move forward, learning from the past to improve each day.
“I think working with the right approach in each at-bat is a big deal,” said senior infielder Claire Fritsch. “We also need to make sure our short game stays strong. We had a lot of production with our short game, so if we can continue to do that and have a great approach each at-bat, it will help.”
Like many people, the Hawkeyes were cooped up during January and early February practices. The softball team typically spends the month of February and half of March practicing on the Iowa Turf field at the Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Complex (HTRC).
This season has been different. Iowa City has had unseasonably warm weather over the past few weeks, which has allowed the field to dry out. This week, the Hawkeyes took advantage of two days of sunshine and warm temperatures to practice outside.
“Being outside definitely helps,” said Fritsch. “The outfielders are able to work on reading balls with the sun and other elements. It’s also really helpful for the infield, because playing on dirt instead of turf is a big difference.”
“Being outside also helps with scrimmages,” added freshman pitcher Allison Doocy. “Overall, it just runs a little more smoothly and makes it easier to practice in game-like situations.”
Although both of their tournaments have been in warmer climates, practicing outside on their home field has given the Hawkeyes new energy that they can carry forward into next week.
“Being outside allows you to have some different energy,” said Looper. “You travel and get some nice weather, but then you come home and you are back inside. You have florescent lights, four walls, and a roof. The nice thing is we are used to practicing inside, but being outside has allowed them to have a different energy that will benefit us moving forward.”
Following the weekend break, the Hawkeyes travel to Fullerton, California, where they will face No. 3 Florida on March 2 at 2 p.m. (CT) in game one of the Judi Garman Classic. Iowa will also square off with Fresno State, Washington, Arizona State, and Cal March 2-4.