Iowa softball ready to pick up where it left off

After an abrupt end to the 2020 season, Iowa softball aims to rebuild its momentum in 2021.

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Hayden Froehlich

Iowa infielder Nia Carter slides to home plate at the Iowa softball game against Indian Hills at Pearl Field on Sunday, October 6th, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Warriors 21-2.

Isaac Goffin, Assistant Sports Editor


The 2020 Iowa softball team was on pace to finish its season with the most wins the program had accumulated in a single season since 2013. Then, its season was canceled March 12 because of COVID-19.

Though their 17-5 record from last season won’t carry over into the 2021 season, the Hawkeyes are ready to get back to their winning ways after nearly a year away from the diamond.

Iowa is currently projected to finish fifth in the Big Ten Conference by D1 Softball and to be a regional team.

“Just keep our drive,” senior pitcher Lauren Shaw said. “Keep our focus. We finished last year better than so many years in the past and having that to work towards and we were able to see the full potential that we had last year getting into Big Ten Conference play. So, this year, the fact that we only get Big Ten Conference [games] kind of gives us a chance to make up for what we lost and bring ourselves in the Big Ten and show that we are a dominating force.”

Iowa’s doubleheader against Ohio State Friday in Leesburg, Florida, will mark first time the Hawkeyes have played a conference opponent since the 2019 season. The Hawkeyes will play a 44-game regular season schedule – all within the Big Ten – this year.

The 2021 season will be Renee Gillispie’s third as head coach of the Iowa softball program, and she’s seeing the culture she wanted to establish in Iowa City take hold.

“The culture is really good,” Gillispie said. “They’re fighting for each other. They’re family. They’re working really hard to compete and make a name for Iowa.”

Senior pitcher Allison Doocy, who boasted a 1.54 ERA last season, has also seen Gillispie’s culture materialize.

“I think we just have a strong group of girls who are willing to work this year,” Doocy said. “Everyone is still working to beat out the next person but also supporting each other throughout that. Obviously, nothing set in stone. So, seeing girls, even this week, today, a few days out just working for their spot and working to get better each day.”

The Hawkeyes should have some strong hitters in 2021. Sophomore Nia Carter led the Big Ten with a .509 nonconference batting average last season. Her batting average also ranked 11th nationally.

“My philosophy, I guess, is just keep it simple,” Carter said. “I know what I’m capable of and I try to not make it too bigger than what it seems. So, just carrying that simpleness and calmness into this year.”

Kalena Burns, also a sophomore, put up a .403 batting average, five home runs, and 20 RBIs last season.

Iowa’s pitchers, like Shaw, have noticed, in practice, how talented the Hawkeyes’ hitters are.

“Discipline,” Shaw said. “Our hitters are super disciplined right now, and me personally, it’s making me angry pitching against them in practice because they’re not necessarily falling for tricks. I’m playing on them but they’re super disciplined. They have their plan of attack, they’re ready, they’re hungry, they want to hit everything, and they want to attack the ball and I’m really excited to see them get to do that this coming weekend and the rest of the season.”

Iowa’s home-opener is set for April 2 against Indiana. For now, no fans will be allowed to attend games at Pearl Field.

The 2021 Big Ten Softball Championships will not be held because of COVID-19, meaning the Hawkeyes’ season will conclude May 16 against Illinios.

NCAA Regionals will begin May 21 and the Women’s College World Series will start June 3.

“I think we’ll upset a lot of people,” Carter said. “I think we’re going to be a top contender for sure.”

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