By Anna Kayser
Despite only winning one Big Ten series during the regular season, the Iowa softball team has the means and the confidence necessary to make it far in the conference tournament this weekend.
In the regular season, Iowa took games off of No. 1 seed Michigan and No. 4 seed Northwestern, both of which it could potentially face before the finals.
“I believe there’s a confidence collectively as a team when we have [beaten ranked teams], and we present ourselves as the big team that we are,” senior Allie Wood said. “I mean, we beat [Arizona State], and they’re a really big ball club, Baylor, all these teams. If we have a presence on the field and believe in our capabilities, we can beat all these teams.”
A lot comes from those ranked wins. In those games, the defense, offense, and pitching were all at peak level.
Despite having a down month in April, the team believes that with a resurgence of confidence, it can make it far.
“I think our team believes that we can beat anyone on any given day,” senior Angela Schmiederer said. “We had a pretty competitive series with Northwestern, so if we can take care of Ohio State first — that’s definitely our main focus, obviously, right now — I think we’re set up to have a good run.”
For the eight seniors on the squad, this will be their last run for the Black and Gold.
Having that type of leadership to offset a few young starters who haven’t experienced the Big Ten yet will be a key.
“It’s just a game,” Wood said, reflecting on the advice she gives to younger players. “We’ve played some pretty big teams, we’re a pretty good ballclub, so just trusting our capabilities, and we’re capable of getting things done just as long as we trust the process and believe that we can do it.”
Being seniors doesn’t make this year different for those upperclassmen. They all have the same goal they have had in mind during their careers.
The first goal was to make it to the tournament, and now, it’s to play their best softball.
“All I can hope for — being my senior year or any year — is to just have a good showing and make it as far as we can,” Schmiederer said.
Notching one more regular-season win than last season, this team doesn’t look very different in the win/loss totals.
But it is.
“I think we all just have an understanding that we’re going to push each other on the field to be the best that we can be,” Schmiederer said. “We’re highly competitive with each other, and I think we just feed off one another, especially in practices and in games. It’s working right now in our team, morale is pretty high, and I think that we’re going to do some big things this week.”
Despite this being the seniors’ last run, that thought shouldn’t result in urgency and stress.
“I hope they go out and enjoy themselves, and not put too much pressure on themselves to do more than they’re capable of,” head coach Marla Looper said. “If they go in relaxed, the opportunity is sitting right in front of them to do something that they haven’t been able to do since they’ve been here.”