Iowa softball charges on in second tournament

Iowa softball’s second weekend of the season includes five games in Orlando.

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Iowa softball charges on in second tournament

Softball head coach Renee Gillispie talks to the media during Softball Media Day at the Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Complex on Friday, February 1, 2019.

Softball head coach Renee Gillispie talks to the media during Softball Media Day at the Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Complex on Friday, February 1, 2019.

Katina Zentz

Softball head coach Renee Gillispie talks to the media during Softball Media Day at the Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Complex on Friday, February 1, 2019.

Katina Zentz

Katina Zentz

Softball head coach Renee Gillispie talks to the media during Softball Media Day at the Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Complex on Friday, February 1, 2019.

Pete Mills, Assistant Sports Editor

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Iowa softball returns to play this weekend in the Diamond 9 Citrus Blossom in Orlando, Florida.

It’s the second weekend of competition for the team. The Hawkeyes will face off against Villanova and Kansas today, Missouri and St. Joe’s on Saturday, and UMass on Feb. 17.

Opening weekend was a tough one for the Hawkeyes, who were only able to win one out of four games. They faced stiff competition in No. 8 LSU, so the team believes that the experiences it gained trump the outcomes of the games.

“There was a lot of growth that will prepare us for the rest of season,” head coach Renee Gillispie said in a release. “From a coach’s perspective, we are working on our process to take the steps we need to improve.”

Still, some of the team’s high producers came out in full force last weekend, giving Iowa hope.

Sophomore Aralee Bogar stuffed the sheet at the 1-slot for the team. Through the four games, she hit .417 and led off Iowa’s season with a double. She went on to score 2 runs and knock 5 hits for the Hawkeyes.

Junior pitcher Allison Doocy also proved to be effective. The starter returned to last season’s dominance, allowing a .186 batting average in her two starts. She pitched 16.2 innings and posted a 2.16 ERA.

With more gritty performances such as these, the Hawkeyes are confident about the future.

“Our goal is to win anything and everything,” pitcher Erin Riding said. “Our goal is to set the standard.”

The team will again have stiff competition this weekend.

Massachusetts won the A10 conference title a season ago and went undefeated in conference play. Missouri has a ranked win under its belt, having beaten No. 12 Arizona State in its opening weekend.

Most of the teams competing will use it as an opening weekend. This will give Iowa a leg up, because it has had the opportunity to shake of the offseason dust.

Through one weekend of play and entering another one, the honeymoon with the new coach and game plan is still very much alive

“It’s a new start for us,” Doocy said. “We’ve been working on a lot of good, new things. We have lot of new light in this team.”

The players still know the rebuilding is a lengthy process, though. Even though Gillispie has clear weapons in her first year as head coach, establishing a new culture takes time.

Luckily for the Hawkeyes, they have a lot of time for this to happen. The team is young with only two seniors, and its biggest rising stars still have several years left.

These first few series are important in setting the tone of a season and, in Gillispie’s case, the future of the program.

It’s a tight schedule this weekend in Orlando with five games, but the team has a lot to prove. The team’s eyes, however, are truly set on conference play, which will start March 22 at Purdue.

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