By JACK ROSSI
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Mallory Kilian has not had a typical senior year. But despite a new coaching staff, an influx of young talent, and a new team culture, Kilian hasn’t missed a beat.
It’s common for players to have it all figured out by their fourth year, but there has been a lot of moving parts around Kilian, who is embracing the changes stemming from the hiring of head coach Renee Gillispie in June.
“I’ve had an open mind to everything,” Kilian said. “Right away, the coaching staff reached out to us, which was really helpful so I got to know them through a couple conversations and they explained what they wanted from us, which was nice.”
The Fort Dodge, Iowa, native is one of two seniors on the team and takes a lead-by-example approach to guiding a young Hawkeye team.
“I am embracing my senior year as much as I can,” Kilian said. “I am probably more of a visual leader – a leader by example. I am doing the best I can in that aspect. There are a lot of ups and downs in the season. If I can help the freshmen out — because there will be some struggles — and show that I can bounce back, then they will know they can as well.”
At the plate, Kilian is as solid as ever. Entering Iowa’s final tournament of the nonconference season, Kilian is batting .345 with a team-high six doubles and one home run. At the USF Series March 1-3, Kilian batted .438 with six RBIs.
“Hitting has never been too mechanical for me, so I keep myself loose in that respect, but fielding I have taken in a lot of what (the coaches) have had to say going back to third base, which is a position I haven’t played in a while,” Kilian added.
Kilian returned to third base in 2019 after playing first base most of last season. Kilian played third during her freshman and sophomore seasons. Along with being paired with a new shortstop – sophomore Ashley Hamilton – the two have solidified their chemistry on the left side of the infield.
“We have done a good job communicating and making me feel more comfortable being over on that side,” Kilian said. “The comradery on the field has done a nice job of making me feel more comfortable and helping lead this team.”
Even in her senior season, Kilian isn’t afraid to continue being a student of the game.
“It’s cool because with this staff, they might see things a little differently, whether it is my hitting or fielding, that I could incorporate and continue to learn,” Kilian said.
Having won 10 of its last 12 games, Kilian sees a lot of potential from the team with the Big Ten season right around the corner.
I am excited what our lineup can do,” Kilian said. “We have seen a couple exciting things here and there, but we haven’t put it all together yet. Bringing that into the Big Ten and being able to come together as a lineup and string together hits will be great to see.”
The Hawkeyes play at the Saluki Invitational this weekend in Carbondale, Illinois. Follow the tournament via live stats on hawkeyesports.com/sblive.