By CARI GOLD
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Although the first week of 2018 saw temperatures that barely got above zero, Jan. 8 reached almost 40 degrees in what felt like the kind of spring thaw that precedes the start of softball season. This weather was fitting for the University of Iowa softball program’s first day of spring practice.
After two months apart following the close of the fall season the Hawkeyes began preseason practice Monday morning.
“We started off bright and early, hitting the ground running with strength and conditioning tests this morning,” said senior catcher Angela Schmiederer. “Moving forward from that, I’m excited to have a nice big chunk of practice this afternoon where we get to work our skill set more so than our conditioning or weights, which we have been focused on individually over the past few months. Coming together is going to be cool, and I’m excited to see how we all mesh and get back on the field together.”
Another season brings a fresh start, which excites sophomore pitcher Allison Doocy.
“Today’s the first day of the season,” she said “We came out this morning and worked really hard on during strength and conditioning, and that just showed the work that everyone had been putting in all of winter break. Now, we get to move forward from here and that’s just exciting.”
Iowa began preparations for the 2018 season during the fall season. With four Hawkeyes lost to graduation and five new faces added to the mix, the team focused on both improving their game and building relationships during the fall semester.
“We had some girls come in for the fall semester so this team is a whole new unit,” said Doocy. “During the fall, we focused on building those relationships but also looked at moving forward from where we were in the past just in all aspects of the sport.”
Iowa concluded fall play in October. From mental training to hitting to strength and stamina, the Hawkeyes used the two months off between fall ball and spring training to improve in all aspects of their game.
“We had a throwing program that we all stuck to pretty strictly,” said Schmiederer. “[Strength] coach [Cody] Roberts also set up a pretty good offseason program for us, so we had a lot of resources coming from the things that we do here that we were able to implement while we were home.”
Now that the Hawkeyes are back together, they are excited for the season to start. Although they are a month away from their first game, they are ready to face this year’s competition.
“I’m most excited to play a different team,” said Schmiederer. “In the first few weeks of preseason, we are going to scrimmage each other a lot. We learn a little bit of something new about our teammates every day, but being able to compete against another team is what I love the most about the season.”
“I’m excited because it’s a new beginning,” added Doocy. “Everything from last season is in the past. Now we get a chance to start over with a new team. I’m excited to attack the season with this unit.”
The Hawkeyes open the 2018 season on Feb. 9-11 at the Mardi Gras Tournament. Iowa will face Illinois-Chicago, Eastern Illinois, UL Lafayette, and Evansville during opening weekend.
By CARI GOLD