Hawkeye softball opens season with three doubleheaders in Florida

Iowa faces Ohio State, No. 20 Michigan, and Michigan State in the Sunshine State this weekend.


Emily Wangen

Pitcher Allison Doocy warms up during the Iowa softball fall opener against Des Moines Area Community College. The Hawkeyes beat the Bears 4-1 in 10 innings.

Isaac Goffin, Assistant Sports Editor

The Iowa softball team went 17-5 before the remainder of its schedule was canceled last season, but none of those games came against conference opponents. But this season, Iowa will be involved in Big Ten battles from the very start.

The Hawkeyes’ 44-game, conference-only schedule starts Friday with a doubleheader against Ohio State in Leesburg, Florida. Iowa follows that up with doubleheaders against No. 20 Michigan on Saturday and Michigan State on Sunday.

“It will be tough,” Iowa head coach Renee Gillispie said regarding the schedule. “I mean, you’re [normally] looking at a chance to have some offseason non-conference games to figure out where we are. Those early games are important, but we’re in the same boat with every Big Ten conference school. So, we talk about this tenacity, who’s going to step up. If you make mistakes, who’s going to get back up and fight for that chance.”

Senior pitcher Allison Doocy, who led the team with a 1.54 ERA last season, is taking an optimistic approach to the 2021 schedule.

“I’m honestly really excited,” Doocy said. “It’s different. It felt intimidating at first but I’m excited to get right to it. I’m excited to play every Big Ten team. That’s something I’ve still haven’t done in the five years I’ve been here. So, it definitely changes things. You’ve got to be right on top of it right away. There’s not really time to mess around. But you can see that in our practices that people are ready to go.”

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The Hawkeyes have 10 freshmen out of 25 players on their roster. The next largest class on the team is seniors, which consists of eight players.

Gillispie, who is coaching her third season at Iowa, has an expectation that is common for seniors.

“It’s leadership,” Gillispie said. “It’s being able to step up. With them coming in as seniors and for us to have them for the last two or three years, we’re looking for them to step up. And they’ve bought into our culture, they bought into what we were trying to do here at Iowa, and they’re leading now. You look at the majority of our seniors are pitchers and having them be that strength on the mound with them and develop them.

“But I’m excited about that. I’m excited about where we are with our culture. I’m excited about where we are with our seniors and even with them you got to look at the younger kids. They’re looking up to them to make things happen for us.”

The last time the Hawkeyes played a game was on March 7, meaning they’ve had to find a way to stay sharp to be ready for the 2021 season under unusual circumstances.

“Definitely just connect with teammates,” senior pitcher Lauren Shaw said. “It’s really hard when we’re not practicing together, and we lift in separate groups. We’re split in half for lifting. So, or even just over quarantine not being able to see each other and not having the entire full season it’s easy to lose those connections and lose that closeness and oneness that you feel when you’re on the field with somebody every day.”