After a strong opening weekend at the Kickin’ Chicken Classic, Iowa is ready to take another step forward as the team travels to Atlanta to take part in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
At this point, it’s about continuing an encouraging start to the season for the Hawkeyes.
“I was very satisfied with what they’ve done,” head coach Renee Gillispie said. “Coming back with two extra-inning games was big for us. Being able to know that they have the fight in them and understand what they need to do to compete.”
This will be the first time Iowa will represent the Big Ten in the challenge since 2017, where the team went 0-4 against Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech.
However, the team is feeling optimistic this time around, despite the strong competition level.
“It’s going to be tough games. The ACC is a good conference,” Iowa pitcher Lauren Shaw said. “We’re going to come out with our best game and get work done at practice, so hopefully we can come out with some wins.”
Both of Iowa’s opponents are coming off difficult opening weekends.
Boston College could not get the bats going, with the team scoring just eight runs in five games in Fort Myers. However, the Eagles performed well on the other side of the ball, holding their opponents to a meager .164 slugging percentage.
Pitcher Susannah Anderson was a big part of that success, going 2-1 on the weekend and pitching a no-hitter against Georgetown.
After Iowa’s good pitching weekend, this could mean two very low-scoring games against Boston College.
Despite the poor weekend hitting overall, the Eagles have one hitting x-factor in Ellie Mataya, who recorded seven hits and a .412 batting average from the opening weekend.
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Georgia Tech will present a much different opposition for the Hawkeyes. The Yellow Jackets gave up 25 runs in its four games last weekend. Georgia Tech got off to a hot start hitting however, with a .500 slugging percentage.
Focusing on the Hawkeyes, senior Allison Doocy and Shaw will be looking to build off a strong opening weekend. Shaw, the projected majority starter for the weekend, allowed just 15 hits in her four starts.
Iowa committed just four errors in its five games in South Carolina. Against a team like Boston College, who committed eight in its opening weekend, the Hawkeyes could take serious advantage of those miscues in a tight game.
Another big weekend from Mia Ruther would be a major boost for the Hawkeyes on offense. The junior recorded a batting average of .533 through 15 at bats and had an RBI in her opening weekend.
After struggling to open the season, senior infielder Donirae Mayhew could be due for a few big games. She has the potential for the big play after hitting a home run against Virginia Tech.
The Hawkeyes will kick off the weekend at 2:30 p.m. Friday against Boston College, before a Saturday double-header and a Sunday afternoon game against Georgia Tech.