By James Geerdes
After Big Ten play concluded for Iowa softball on Sunday, the team wound up as the last seed in the Big Ten Tournament. Head coach Marla Looper and her squad finished the regular season with a staggering 6-16 conference record.
Iowa’s poor performance throughout the season put it against fifth-seeded Ohio State in the first round of the tournament. The two teams have yet to meet this season, and Iowa is by no means the favorite, but the Black and Gold do have the ability to win its opening game.
Well, Iowa has the ability to win every game. Top-seeded Michigan suffered two conference losses on the season, one of which came at the hands of Iowa. Sophomore pitcher Allison Doocy pitched 7 innings, allowing just 8 hits and 1 earned run. More surprisingly, Iowa hitters put 4 runs across.
So yes, Iowa can beat Ohio State. Yes, hitting has been the bane of Iowa’s season. Hawkeye bats have hit a measly .228 this year, while the Buckeyes hit .274. But if Doocy can control her opponent’s bats, then Iowa has a real shot at winning.
The two teams have also not played each other this season. While both will scout each other heavily, Iowa does have a dark-horse characteristic — it’s topped such nationally contending teams as Arizona State and Baylor.
The second game is scarier for Iowa. If Iowa advances through Ohio State, the Hawkeyes will face Northwestern. The Wildcats took two games of the three-game series in April. Iowa won the second game, but Northwestern responded and downed the Hawkeyes in Game 3, 6-2.
To be frank, Iowa’s odds of advancing aren’t good. But the team has proven that it can compete with the best. And if they find their kick, the Hawkeyes could be dark horses in the Big Ten Tournament.
By Anna Kayser
Recently, the Hawkeyes haven’t been playing their best softball.
If the Big Ten Tournament had occurred in early March, this would be a different story. The softball team was in the midst of peak performance, taking down numerous ranked opponents both in and out of the conference.
But then a 5-11 April happened, and a week of practice leading up to facing the No. 5 seed Ohio State isn’t going to change that fact.
Plainly stated, the end of the softball season for Iowa is going to come sooner rather than later.
In 22 conference games, the Hawkeyes have won six. Their only series win came against Wisconsin, and looking back, it’s almost like that was a different team.
Leading up to the tournament in the last regular-season series, Iowa scored 1 run in 19 innings in being swept against Purdue, which was previously ranked at No. 12 in the Big Ten — not what you want from an offense that has been faltering.
This team needed a spark to have some hope of making it to the second or third round, but instead, flatness prevails.
On Thursday, we’ll probably say farewell to the 2018 season of Iowa softball.