By JACK ROSSI
IOWA CITY, Iowa — University of Iowa freshman softball player Hallie Ketcham may be one of the smallest players on the field, but she had the biggest impact in her opening weekend.
The Urbandale, Iowa, native made her Hawkeye debut on Feb. 15-17 at the Diamond 9 Citrus Blossom in Kissimmee, Florida, and found herself as a staple in Iowa’s lineup for all five games.
“I was not expecting to get all five starts this weekend,” Ketcham said. “I found out I got the start about two minutes before the first game when I looked at the lineup.”
While Ketcham has played right and center field in the past, left field was a first for her.
“It was a good surprise,” Ketcham said. “I never played left field until this year. I played right field in eighth grade and my freshman year (of high school) and then I played center field. It’s an interesting change, but I have been in the outfield my whole life, so it’s easy to pick up. (Assistant) coach (Trena) Prater really helped me out.”
“Hallie is one of the most athletic players we have on the team,” Prater said. “She brings speed to the outfield and has a great cannon.”
After her first weekend of action, the 2018 No. 89 recruit in the nation according to FloSoftball, ranks second on the team with a .333 batting average and has two stolen bases.
“My approach at the plate is getting base hits and getting on base,” Ketcham said. “I want to help my team score and win. I have worked hard this offseason to be comfortable at the plate to step up and in those moments.”
According to Prater, Ketcham has all the tools necessary to affect the game in any situation.
“She is a triple threat and has utilized her bunt, slap, and hit to get on base and get a lot of rallies started,” Prater added. “Her speed for Mallory (Kilian) to come up and hit her in has been vital for us this weekend.”
Ketcham was held out of the first weekend due to an injury, but made up for lost time with renewed focus on her play and health.
“It was hard being away when you see your team out there, but I worked hard to get back and healthy,” Ketcham said. “I show up to practice, work hard, and want to get better for my team.”
The Hawkeyes return to Kissimmee, Florida, next weekend for the Diamond 9 Citrus Blossom. Iowa is set to face UAB, Fordham, Morgan State, and Notre Dame. The tournament will be live streamed by FloSoftball.