By JACK ROSSI
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Three weeks into the 2019 season and the University of Iowa softball team is confident, excited, and hungry for more wins.
The Hawkeyes are enjoying a six-game winning streak heading into the University of South Florida Series this weekend after sweeping the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic last weekend. At 8-6, each week has been a stepping stone for the up-and-coming Hawkeyes and last week was a product of everything coming together for the team’s longest winning streak since 2011.
“You could tell we were all having fun,” junior pitcher Allison Doocy said. “We were all enjoying the weekend and each other and playing as a team… You could see it in everyone’s at-bats and on the field.”
Doocy picked up three wins, tossing three complete games and a shutout last weekend, but a 5-0 weekend was never guaranteed. The Hawkeyes didn’t see the results they hoped for the previous two weeks and took each day of practice meticulously addressing their weaknesses.
“We focused on the little things and made sure our fundamentals were strong,” UI head coach Renee Gillispie said. “We weren’t hitting with runners in scoring position, so we worked on that and got better. On the defensive side, we made some adjustments to the outcome we needed. (Ashley Hamilton) locked down shortstop for us, and Mallory (Kilian) did a great job at third base so she locked down third.”
Offensively, the difference maker has been junior DoniRae Mayhew, who has been batting .619 with four doubles and two home runs during her seven-game hitting streak.
“I felt a lot better coming out of practice, and another thing that was huge was confidence and actually believing that I could do these things,” Mayhew added. “I could tell things were improving last week and everything was flowing so much better than in previous weeks.”
Each player has had a moment to shine over the team’s previous six games and as their belief and confidence continues to rise, the product on the field will continue to improve. Iowa’s 2-1 victory over Notre Dame last Sunday accelerated that belief.
“It would have been easy on Sunday to act like we were tired and want to go home, but you could see it in everyone’s eyes that we wanted to get that win,” Doocy said. “The Notre Dame game flipped the switch and showed how good we are and can be.”
Gillispie and her staff can address every aspect of the game they can except belief, and the team found their belief in Florida.
“That is what we saw turn on this past weekend, seeing them believe in themselves,” Gillispie said. “. They had a little more swag. It’s something internally they have to find. The games were in their hands and they saw they could come from behind, they can score, and they can do everything they need to do to win.”
With the addition of ice cream for each undefeated weekend series, not only are the Hawkeyes hungry to win, but also hungry for more ice cream.
Iowa faces Western Michigan, Binghamton, Middle Tennessee State, USF, and Ball State this weekend at the USF Series in Clearwater, Florida. Follow the games through live stats at hawkeyesports.com/sblive.