Hawkeye softball prepped for Minnesota

Hawkeye softball will be tested in a weekend series against Minnesota, one of the top squads in the Big Ten.

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Hawkeye softball prepped for Minnesota

Iowa utility player Ashley Hamilton misses the ball during the game against Nebraska at the Bob Pearl Softball Field on Wednesday, April 24, 2019. The Hawkeyes were defeated 7-5 by the Huskers.

Iowa utility player Ashley Hamilton misses the ball during the game against Nebraska at the Bob Pearl Softball Field on Wednesday, April 24, 2019. The Hawkeyes were defeated 7-5 by the Huskers.

Roman Slabach

Iowa utility player Ashley Hamilton misses the ball during the game against Nebraska at the Bob Pearl Softball Field on Wednesday, April 24, 2019. The Hawkeyes were defeated 7-5 by the Huskers.

Roman Slabach

Roman Slabach

Iowa utility player Ashley Hamilton misses the ball during the game against Nebraska at the Bob Pearl Softball Field on Wednesday, April 24, 2019. The Hawkeyes were defeated 7-5 by the Huskers.

Jordan Zuniga, Sports Reporter

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April is starting to give way to May, which means the softball season is starting to reach its conclusion.

The Hawkeyes have just two more three-game series left in the regular season, the first being this weekend against Minnesota in Minneapolis.

It will be a tough test — Minnesota has lost just one conference game this season and boasts an impressive 34-10 record.

Just as in all season, the goal for the Hawkeyes is improvement.

“We just have to continue to get better every day, and that’s what our focus is,” Iowa coach Renee Gillispie said. “You’re seeing us getting better from two weeks ago to now. We’re doing the little things right. It’s going to be tough competition in Minnesota, and we’re looking forward to the challenge.”

The biggest challenge Minnesota will provide for the Hawkeyes will be its stellar pitching. Currently second in the Big Ten with a 1.87 staff ERA, Minnesota has relied on solid pitching to win games.

Much of that shut-down pitching has come from Amber Fiser, who has the third best ERA in the conference at 1.44. She is also 21-6 this season.

For an Iowa team that ranks last in the Big Ten in several hitting categories, it will be a good opportunity to go against elite pitching, especially because the team struggled with stellar pitching early in the season.

RELATED: Hawkeye softball splits doubleheader with Nebraska

Minnesota is one of three Big Ten teams to have a staff ERA under 2.00; Iowa has faced the other two — Wisconsin (1.93), and Northwestern (1.79).

To say the least, the Hawkeyes struggled to make contact when facing them.

Iowa played Northwestern and Wisconsin in back-to-back three-game sets, and during that six-game stretch from March 29-April 7, Iowa managed just 5 runs on 20 hits. Needless to say, Iowa won zero of those games.

But that was early in the season during a time when Iowa was struggling to score anyway.

This series gives the Hawkeyes a chance to show they have improved this season and are better able to hit elite pitching.

Gillispie is confident in the lineup producing at this point, which should be an advantage going against Minnesota.

“The bottom of our line up was great,” she said. “Then you look up at Hayvn [Monteer] doing some good things for us, too. I was really proud with how we came through [Wednesday]. Being able to put some pressure on the defense is huge.”

Iowa will start the series at 4 p.m. today with a doubleheader and conclude the series at 1 p.m. Saturday.

“Minnesota is going to be tough,” Gillispie said. “We just have to make sure we’re doing the little things on our end. We need to do the little things right, have an errorless game, and, hopefully, be able to take advantage of their mistakes.”


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