Ruther, Hawkeyes ready to right the ship in 2020

After a disappointing 2019 campaign, Iowa softball is ready to turn the corner in 2020, led by junior college transfer Mia Ruther.

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Ruther, Hawkeyes ready to right the ship in 2020

Infielder Mia Ruther bunts during the Iowa softball fall opener against Des Moines Area Community College. The Hawkeyes beat the Bears 4-1 in 10 innings.

Infielder Mia Ruther bunts during the Iowa softball fall opener against Des Moines Area Community College. The Hawkeyes beat the Bears 4-1 in 10 innings.

Emily Wangen

Infielder Mia Ruther bunts during the Iowa softball fall opener against Des Moines Area Community College. The Hawkeyes beat the Bears 4-1 in 10 innings.

Emily Wangen

Emily Wangen

Infielder Mia Ruther bunts during the Iowa softball fall opener against Des Moines Area Community College. The Hawkeyes beat the Bears 4-1 in 10 innings.

Austin Hanson, Assistant Sports Editor

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Following a 19-32 season in 2019, Iowa softball is gearing up for its latest campaign. Despite the Hawkeyes’ recent struggles, they remain optimistic for 2020.

Very optimistic.

“What we’re capable of, I truly feel like we can have 38 to 40 wins,” head coach Renee Gillispie said. “I think it’ll give us a chance to be seen in the NCAA Regionals.”

Much of Iowa’s optimism has been generated by the fresh faces Gillispie welcomed to her program during the offseason.

“I think [the newcomers are] going to be an immediate impact,” senior Allison Doocy said. “We saw right from the fall that we had some great players that came in. We have a lot of girls with really good experience — freshmen and transfers — that have a lot to bring to the team. A lot of new personalities, as well as skill sets that made a really competitive atmosphere, but also, like, a loving atmosphere. We’re all fighting for a spot, but also supporting each other in what we’re doing.”

The class of new Hawkeyes is highlighted by Mia Ruther. Ruther transferred in from Des Moines Area Community College, where she earned National Junior College Athletic Association All-American honors.

The Burlington, Iowa, native’s path to the UI wasn’t easy. Iowa City’s proximity to Burlington nearly kept Ruther out of a Hawkeye uniform entirely.

“I am very, very grateful that softball brought me to the University of Iowa,” Ruther said. “I wasn’t considering coming here, just because it’s so close to home. The University has just blown my expectations away, just with the resources they have, the classes, how much I’ve already learned in the classes. [The softball program] has also met my expectations.”

Ruther largely credits her decision to join the Hawkeye softball program to coach Gillispie’s recruiting efforts.

“The initial conversation that [Gillispie] wanted me to play here was kind of something that sparked me,” Ruther said. “It wasn’t something I ever imagined could happen. She just kind of showed me that she had the same values as the coaches that I have loved and looked up to so much.”

Gillispie is pleased with her recruiting efforts and glad to have Ruther’s presence and versatility on the roster for 2020.

“It’s exciting,” Gillispie said. “[Ruther] is a hometown girl from Burlington, Iowa. It’s exciting to see Mia here and helping us out. She plays so many different positions. We’ve had her at second base, shortstop, and even a little outfield these past few weeks. She’s very versatile, and with her speed, she’s going to give us a lot of opportunities offensively.”

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Ruther is a natural second baseman. She started at second base during her time at Des Moines Area Community College from 2017 to 2019.Despite her inclination for second base, Ruther is open to exploiting her talents at other positions.

Anything to help out the Hawkeyes.

“I’m really excited about [trying other positions],” Ruther said. “I started outfield maybe the end of last week. I’m really excited for the challenge. It’s something new, I’ve absolutely never played outfield.

“It’s definitely hard seeing all these other girls with knowledge of the techniques and stuff. I’m really grateful for the opportunity and to feel like they want me on the field. They’re willing to try me anywhere, and I’ll just give it my all.”

Ruther will wear No. 26 for the Hawkeyes this season. It is unclear how exactly the junior college transfer will fit into Iowa’s lineup, but no matter where she is on the diamond, she’ll be making an impact.

 

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