Iowa softball looks to bounce back against Northwestern

After dropping three of four games against Wisconsin last week, the Hawkeyes will host Northwestern at Bob Pearl Field this weekend.


Nathan Charles

(left to right) Iowa’s Riley Sheehy, Brylee Klosterman and Nia Carter confer during a softball game between Iowa and Indiana at Bob Pearl Softball Field on Sunday, April 4th. The Hawkeyes defeated the Hoosiers 2-1 in extra innings

Chloe Peterson, Sports Reporter

Last weekend, Iowa softball traveled to Madison, Wisconsin, in search of its first series sweep of the 2020-21 season.

The then-5-15 Badgers, however, had different plans for the Hawkeyes, dealing Iowa three losses in a four-game stretch.

“I just think our mindset wasn’t the best as it could’ve been going into our first game on Friday,”

Hawkeye pitcher Lauren Shaw said. “And the first game really sets the tone for the entire weekend. So, just going into this weekend, we’re going to focus on this game, one game at a time, and having fun while still doing the little things right.”

While the rest of her Hawkeye teammates struggled last weekend, junior outfielder Riley Sheehy shined, hitting 4-of-9 on the weekend. One her at-bats even resulted in a triple.

“I just go up there and try to hit the ball hard,” Sheehy said. “And it worked out for me this weekend [in Madison], so I’m just going to stick with that plan and hope it continues.”

Sheehy has started all 24 of the Hawkeyes’ games this season, adding a great deal of consistency to Iowa’s lineup.

Sheehy typically bats second in Iowa’s lineup. On the season, Sheehy has accumulated a team-best six sacrifice hits.

“[Sheehy] is just about focus,” head coach Renee Gillispie said. “She wants to be in the lineup, she has great at-bats, she’s always able to find ways to get on [base] or move runners … and she’s being selfless for her team, she’s doing the job that we want her to do. And then when she doesn’t have the sac, she finds a way to get some good hits, so she’s really been a clutch hitter for us this whole season.”

While Sheehy hasn’t made much noise at the plate this season — amassing just 16 hits in 24 games — her teammates know how dangerous she can be, offensively.

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“She’s like a triple-threat,” Shaw said. “She will bunt whenever, she has speed, and she has power. We saw in Indiana, she had the game-winning hit, she was amazing this past weekend, and she’s always a force to be reckoned with. And so, I just think she’s someone that no team should sleep on, and she just finds that energy of leading by example. Everyone sees her success and wants to feed off that and be just like her as well.”

This weekend, the Hawkeyes may need Sheehy to play well as they face an 18-6 Northwestern team at Bob Pearl Field in Iowa City.

Iowa’s overall record this season is 14-10, trailing the third-place Wildcats by just four games in the Big Ten Conference standings.

The Hawkeyes could gain significant ground on the Wildcats in the standings should they sweep their four-game series with them this weekend.

Despite all that, the Hawkeyes aren’t focused on the standings this weekend.

“For us, we’re always focusing on what we can do,” Gillispie said. “Northwestern is going to be tough. They play flawless defense, just a very solid team. But for us, it’s getting better at our at-bats. I think if we can have better quality at-bats, more opportunities when runners are in scoring positions to get clutch hits, we’ll come out ahead.”

This weekend’s action between the Hawkeyes and Wildcats begins at 3 p.m. Friday. Iowa and Northwestern will then play a doubleheader on Saturday before the series finale at noon on Sunday.