Iowa softball has been revamped thanks to a partially new coaching staff

The Hawkeyes are looking at the new season using a good track to turn things around.

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Iowa softball has been revamped thanks to a partially new coaching staff

Iowa's Aralee Bogar prepares to receive a throw at second during Iowa’s Big Ten tournament game against Ohio State at the Goodman Softball complex in Madison, Wisconsin on Friday, May 11. The Hawkeyes defeated the Buckeyes 5-1.

Iowa's Aralee Bogar prepares to receive a throw at second during Iowa’s Big Ten tournament game against Ohio State at the Goodman Softball complex in Madison, Wisconsin on Friday, May 11. The Hawkeyes defeated the Buckeyes 5-1.

Nick Rohlman

Iowa's Aralee Bogar prepares to receive a throw at second during Iowa’s Big Ten tournament game against Ohio State at the Goodman Softball complex in Madison, Wisconsin on Friday, May 11. The Hawkeyes defeated the Buckeyes 5-1.

Nick Rohlman

Nick Rohlman

Iowa's Aralee Bogar prepares to receive a throw at second during Iowa’s Big Ten tournament game against Ohio State at the Goodman Softball complex in Madison, Wisconsin on Friday, May 11. The Hawkeyes defeated the Buckeyes 5-1.

Anna Kayser, Assistant Sports Editor

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It’s no secret the Iowa softball team has struggled in recent years.

With a new head coach trying to right the ship, or at least the batting order, the Hawkeyes came out on the field for their first fall exhibition game with a completely different look.

“We have a completely new staff, so it’s just been us learning them and their learning us,” senior Mallory Kilian said. “It’s been a really smooth transition; we haven’t had too many hiccups. The energy is great; they’re always engaged and super-invested, so that’s exciting.”

The Hawkeye offense hopped out to a large early lead on Sept. 14 against Kirkwood, and what used to be a shaky defense stood its ground through the first four innings.

“We banded together as a team and took care of the game really well,” sophomore Aralee Bogar said. “Obviously, we had like 18 hits or something, and that’s crazy. We’re doing really well on offense and just implementing things that we learned in practice all week into the game.”

RELATED: Softball wins first exhibition game

In the fifth inning, things started to go south. With Erin Riding in the circle, Kirkwood scored 6 runs, capitalizing on errors and timely hits.

The Hawkeyes didn’t have their usual spring lineup on the field, but for the Iowa defense to succeed, everyone on the team — even on the bench — needs to have stable ground.

“We had two walks — which, you can’t defend walks,” head coach Renee Gillispie said. “We had two errors behind her. When you’ve got a pitcher struggling, we’ve got to be stronger defensively, and we didn’t do that.”

The Hawkeye lineup looks a lot different this season, but all the new faces bring talent and something that could make the team one to beat come spring.

Eleven of the 21 players on the roster are new to the team as either transfers or freshmen. A majority of them saw action, and they will likely see a lot more through the fall.

RELATED: Softball coaches bring unique talents to Iowa

“We lost a lot of seniors last year and brought in a lot of new people, so obviously a new vibe and a new chemistry,” Bogar said. “So getting together with everyone and the new coaches, it’s just a new feel, but I think we’ve done a good job with just running with it.”

A lot of the changes from 2017 to 2018 have come with the addition of Gillispie as head coach, replacing Marla Looper.

“[Gillispie] is amazing,” Bogar said. “She’s so upbeat, and you can really tell how much she cares about us and pushes us every day. We just really want to play behind her and help her get some more wins.”

After being named the head coach, Gillispie rebuilt the coaching staff with people in the game she knows and trusts.

Assistant coach Trena Prater has head-coach experience and had worked with Gillispie at Central Florida. Another assistant coach, Rick Dillinger, was Gillispie’s high-school head coach.

In addition to the new assistants, former Iowa players from last season Brooke Rozier and Kenzie Ihle have joined the staff as student-coaches.

 

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