Hawkeye softball offense quiet in loss to Illinois

Iowa softball’s offense couldn’t keep up with the red hot Illini bats, as the team fell in its weekend series opener.

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Jenna Galligan

Iowa starting pitcher Allison Doocy (JR) prepares to pitch after an injury caused by a collision during the fourth inning of the conference opening softball game at Pearl Field on Friday, March 29, 2019. The Wildcats defeated the Hawkeyes 5-1.

Jordan Zuniga, Sports Reporter

The wings came off early for the Hawkeye softball team in a 12-1 loss to Illinois on Friday, in the first of a three-game series.

Illinois came into the game as one of the better hitting teams in the Big Ten, and it showed as the hitters jumped all over Iowa starter Allison Doocy from the get-go.

By the time Iowa came up to bat in the bottom of the third, Illinois had amassed a 7-1 lead. With the Hawkeye bats no where to be found, that was all the fighting Illini needed.

There wasn’t much that went right for Iowa on Friday, but head coach Rene Gillespie knows making some minor adjustments could go a long way.

“Little things [hurt us],” she said. “[We’ve struggled with] relays, fly balls, ground balls, pitching, hitting. We kind of struggled with a little bit of everything.”

Doocy finished her afternoon 4 innings into the contest, giving up 10 hits and a walk to the tune of 8 runs (7 earned). She managed to strike out five.

In truth, it was hard to point to anything that the Hawkeyes did well Friday afternoon. Even with a less-than-stellar performance from their ace, the bats continued to miss everything.

Iowa wasn’t pouring on the runs early in the season, but they seem to have forgotten how to score over its current ten game losing streak.

In the last ten games, Iowa has scored just 8 runs on 30 hits. During this abysmal stretch, Iowa has never scored more than two runs in a game, has been shut out four times, and has been held to three or less hits in all but two games.

It doesn’t matter who’s pitching, those kind of offensive numbers aren’t going to win many games.

Gillespie thinks Iowa’s hitting slump is mainly due to a lack of belief.

“I think it’s more of a mental belief,” Gillespie said. “We have a tendency to rip the ball in the bullpen, then our bats slow down during that game. We’ve got to learn to fight, we’ve got to learn to compete.”

Defense wasn’t much better for Iowa. They’ve struggled all season, but the struggles seemed to trickle away after a solid outing against Iowa State earlier in the week.

That all game apart in the first inning, as Illinois was able to score its first run and advance a runner an extra base on a botched relay play.

One of the lone bright spots for Iowa came courtesy of Abby Lien, who hit a towering home run over the left field fence in the bottom of the second.

“We knew they were throwing a lot of rise balls,” Lien said. “So I just moved back in the box and made the adjustment and jumped on a good pitch.”

It was a homer that fought the wicked wind swirling around Pearl Field, and it’s part of a solid two-game stretch for the freshman, who is now 3 for her last 5.

She accounts for 30 percent of the Hawkeye hits in the past two games in which she’s been in the lineup card.

Iowa will have less than twenty-four hours before its next game, as Illinois will be back in Pearl Field Saturday at 1 p.m. for a double-header.

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