By JACK ROSSI
IOWA CITY, Iowa — She’s been a Swiss army knife throughout her softball career, but freshman Abby Lien has finally found her spot for the University of Iowa softball team – behind the plate.
Lien is on a four-game hitting streak and has reached base safely in five consecutive games in her first full year as a catcher.
Lien played where she was needed in high school and a broad skillset allowed her to move throughout the infield.
“My freshman year, I was a shortstop,” Lien said. “Then my coach put me at second and after that he realized I could catch. I moved back to shortstop during my sophomore year and then returned to catcher for my junior year, while finishing my senior year at catcher, third base, and finally shortstop, so I’ve played everywhere.”
With many holes to fill on a Hawkeye roster that graduated eight seniors a year ago, Lien’s versatility made Iowa the perfect destination for the Apple Valley, Minnesota, native, who was looking for a unique college feel.
“I had always looked for a school that is close to home. I was a homebody growing up, so I always wanted to be by my parents,” Lien said.
Lien limited her radius to five hours from her house to allow her family to watch her play. Iowa City’s atmosphere caught her attention.
“Iowa got my attention because it’s a big school, but it has a small town feel and I am a country girl, so I like that you can get both a big school and a small-town feel at the same place,” Lien added.
Lien has proven herself to be a staple in Iowa’s lineup, having started 34 games so far. Since Big Ten play began, Lien is one of eight conference players with a single, double, triple, and home run, while batting at least .300.
She attributes her strong start to unfamiliarity within the Big Ten.
“My thing is that teams don’t know me as well as a freshman,” Lien said. “I am just doing my thing, looking for good pitches early in the count, being selective, and not swinging at bad pitches.”
While teams are adjusting to Lien’s approach at the plate, she is adjusting to them behind it.
“In high school, I could get away with tipping my pitches and setting up early, but in college I have to set up later to not let other teams know the pitch,” Lien said.
Iowa faces off against Drake tonight at 5 p.m. (CT) at Buel Field. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN+ with live audio available via Hawkeye All-Access.