Iowa softball travels to Minnesota in search of upset victory

In their last 12 matchups with the Golden Gophers, the Hawkeyes haven’t picked up a single win.


Nathan Charles

Iowa catcher Lindy Milkowski searches for a loose ball 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.

Isaac Goffin, Assistant Sports Editor

This weekend, Iowa softball will travel to Minneapolis to take on one of the Big Ten Conference’s best teams in a four-game series.

The 15-13 Hawkeyes will take on the 22-6 Golden Gophers at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium beginning on Friday at 5 p.m.

Iowa has dropped its last 12 contests against Minnesota.

“I think we have to look at Minnesota, we have nothing to lose heading into that game,” Hawkeye head coach Renee Gillispie said. “We’re playing one of the top teams in the Big Ten right now, and the way that we play and the energy that we bring will be the deciding factors of those games. So, we talk a lot about understanding how to stay within ourselves, how to focus on what we need to do, how to bring the energy onto the field.”

Iowa is batting .223 as a team this season — good for 11th in the Big Ten.

Last Friday, Northwestern’s Danielle Williams dealt a significant blow to the Hawkeyes’ season-long batting average, retiring 21-straight Hawkeye batters on her way to a perfect game.

Prior to last Friday, no pitcher had ever thrown a perfect game against a Gillispie-coached team.

While Williams’ last perfect game did heavily impact the Hawkeyes’ 2021 batting average, Gillispie said her team’s youth has also played a role in Iowa’s woes at the plate.

Freshman catcher Lindy Milkowski — one of 10 freshmen on Iowa’s roster —is hitting .254 this season. She’s also racked up 15 RBIs in 2021 — four of which came from a grand slam she hit in Iowa’s 5-2 win over Northwestern last Sunday.

Partly enabling Milkowski’s on-field successes are her academic pursuits in psychology. Milkowski believes she’s developed skills in the classroom that she can use to be successful both on and off the field.

“It’s also kind of helped me with learning more about myself as a player, like how I can best help myself in certain situations or how I can help myself get out of a slump,” Milkowski said. “One thing that I’ve learned over my career in psychology is how to be way more self-aware of what exactly I’m doing, or my behavior is showing that I can either tone back a little bit or really focus on and work on.”

While the rest of Iowa’s group of freshmen hasn’t found success as rapidly as Milkowski, senior pitcher Allison Doocy can see the rookies are making progress.

RELATED: Milkowski hits grand slam in Iowa softball’s 5-2 victory

“That group of freshmen came in right away and had a lot of good personalities that mesh really well with this team,” Doocy said. “Even [Wednesday] at practice we just had a lot of energy, and they’re willing to have that confidence even though they are first-years. They’re willing to kind of step up, talk, and be supportive, and I think that’s awesome coming from them, and I’m excited to see what they can do in the next four years.”

The Hawkeyes and Golden Gophers will play their series-opener Friday, a doubleheader Saturday, and a series finale Sunday.