By Jacob Miller
After losing its last three games in the CenturyLink Classic Feb. 10-12, the Iowa softball team will try to bounce back this weekend in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge in Atlanta.
The Hawkeyes will face Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech.
“They’re traditionally strong programs, they’re kind of the middle of the pack in the ACC, and the way they set up the Big Ten/ACC Challenge we’re to match up those two conferences in the same area,” head coach Marla Looper said. “One team started a little hotter than the other, but we’re all in our second weekend, and everyone’s making adjustments after the first weekend.”
On the first day of the CenturyLink Classic, the Hawkeyes started off strong with two wins, but after that, there was a major drop-off in intensity and energy for the following games. One of the adjustments the Hawkeyes are looking to make is maintaining Friday’s energy for the whole weekend.
“We just need to come out with a consistent energy,” senior Kaitlyn Mullarkey said. “We were really excited and ready to go our first day for our first games, obviously, and then the next two days, the energy kind of dropped off, so it’s just something that you have to keep consistent throughout the whole weekend to stay strong.”
A huge factor that contributed to the Hawkeye’s three losses was failing to score early. In their loss against Texas Tech, they scored all 4 of their runs in the last two innings, 3 in the final inning. This was also true in the Texas State game, where their first and only run came in the sixth inning. Iowa only scored by the third inning in two of their first five games of the season.
“I think that’s the thing that’s unique about our sport is we play a tenth of our season in one weekend in five games, and I don’t see us falling three games,” Looper said. “We fought in those three games, and the things that got out of control were times where we gave them a free pass and it compounded.”
Even though the wins and losses do not matter to Looper right now in the early going of the season, last weekend left a lot to be desired. The Hawkeyes will try to get back on the right track against Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech.
Virginia Tech has only lost one game so far this season, coming against UNLV, 10-2. Georgia Tech notched its first win of the season Feb. 15 against Georgia State, 8-3. Both schools have solid softball programs and will be great opponents for the Hawkeyes in the early part of the season.
“It’s just knowing that we can do it, we can beat these teams,” redshirt senior Shayla Starkenburg said. “I think that we showed what we could do on Friday and then the rest of the weekend was kind of a struggle for us, but I think that our team this year … we could definitely come out and win these games.”