By JACK ROSSI
IOWA CITY, Iowa — If there was one word to describe the University of Iowa softball team’s first nine games, it would be perseverance.
Through nine contests, the Hawkeyes are 7-2 – the team’s best start since 2008. That season, Iowa won 42 games and hosted an NCAA Regional.
“We always talk about being in that moment and doing what you can in that moment,” head coach Renee Gillispie said. “Staying in that mindset is our goal for the season.”
Iowa’s two losses against Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech were the first of two consecutive games the teams played against each other.
In both rematches Iowa came out on victorious.
“Our message is that one game doesn’t dictate who we are as a team and who they are as players,” Gillispie said. “The girls did a great job coming back understanding that we had the opportunity and personnel to get it done.”
After a run-rule loss to Virginia Tech on Feb. 8, Iowa came back to defeat the Hokies, 2-1, in extra innings the following day.
A week later, Iowa found itself in the same situation, falling to Georgia Tech in five innings on Saturday only to come back even stronger, shutting out the Yellow Jackets, 5-0, in the Sunday finale.
“They’ve been there and done that,” Gillispie said. “We’ve seen Virginia Tech and came back to win that game. They understand how it works and this weekend it was easier against Georgia Tech to have that same mentality.”
Junior Lauren Shaw threw a complete game with a career-high 10 strikeouts. Shaw is one player who embodies perseverance most on the team. Shaw went 641 days between appearances and now finds herself as one of the most important pieces on the team.”
“Being part of the team without being able to contribute was very hard,” Shaw said. “I had people telling me it was ok to medically retire, but coming back from an injury is motivation enough to keep going and every opportunity I have I take advantage of.”
Against Georgia Tech Iowa went from one hit in game one to nine in game two, utilizing the bottom half of the lineup to do the most damage.
“There are going to be different players that need to step up each time,” Gillispie said. “Against Georgia Tech it was (Riley) Sheehy, (Nia) Carter, and the rest of the bottom of the lineup. Their speed is what really helped us.”
Carter’s heads-up baserunning to take two bases on a sacrifice bunt showed that Iowa wasn’t shaken by their previous defeat.
“This team doesn’t look back and they don’t hold back,” Gillispie added. “They look forward to what the next step is.”
The Hawkeyes head to Honolulu, Hawaii, for the Hawaii tournament next weekend. Iowa is scheduled to face Portland State, UMKC, and Hawaii.