Stagnant offense dooms Iowa softball in loss to Nebraska

The Hawkeye offense couldn’t get a run across the plate Saturday, as Iowa lost to Nebraska, 4-0.


Hannah Kinson

Iowa utility player Denali Loecker watches for a pitch during a softball game against Nebraska on Friday, May 7, 2021 at Pearl Field. The Hawkeyes defeated the Huskers, 1-0.

Chloe Peterson, Sports Reporter

Iowa softball’s offense was dormant Saturday afternoon, as the Hawkeyes dropped the second game of the weekend, 4-0, to Nebraska.

Through 14 innings in two games against Nebraska this weekend, Iowa has only put one run on the board. The Hawkeyes came out with a 1-0 win against the Huskers Friday, but couldn’t plate a run on Saturday.

With the loss, Iowa now sits at 21-17 on the season.

“[Nebraska is] pitching around our big hitters,” head coach Renee Gillispie said. “And [the hitters] really want to do something in that situation. They’re pressing right now, and not making great choice on pitch selection.”

The middle of the Hawkeye batting order — freshman first baseman Denali Loecker, sophomore designated player Kalena Burns, and freshman catcher Marissa Peek — went a combined 1-for-8 at the plate Saturday, with Loecker notching the trio’s only hit.

“I think that’s what we’ve got to focus on, is both Denali and Burns, and even Peek to trust themselves,” Gillispie said. “And know that if they have a pitch that’s elevated, it’s something that they can drive, but I think that they’re pressing too much on bad pitches.”

Although the Hawkeyes had a chance to score early in the game with the bases loaded in the bottom of the first inning, Burns grounded into a double play to end the first frame.

And the double plays kept coming against the Hawkeyes, as Iowa grounded into the two-out tandem a total of three times.

Gillispie said her team was rattled by its four defensive errors — two of which came in the Huskers’ 3-run fourth inning — and the Hawkeyes couldn’t move past the mishaps when they were at the plate.

“I think when you’re not mentally tough to let it go and refocus, and get back in on the offensive side of it, and you carry it with you, that’s the results that you have,” Gillispie said. “You look at what [Nebraska] did today against us, they had three double plays against us in seven innings. That totally takes the air out of our offense, and we hit into those situations.”

Iowa could only muster up four hits Saturday compared to Nebraska’s nine hits, and the Hawkeyes left six runners on base.

“[Hitting is] 90 percent mental,” Gillispie said. “Because it is, it’s being disciplined on the pitches that you know you can drive, it’s being focused to make sure that we understand the situation — where runners are and how to move them… it’s just the little things of the game, and we didn’t execute them today.”

But the Hawkeyes will have a chance to mentally reset on Saturday night, as the second game of the doubleheader at Bob Pearl Field was postponed to Sunday because of impending inclement weather in Iowa City.

“Some more rest, I think that’ll help everybody get a chance to rest in and know that they’ve got two games tomorrow that they’ve got to go hard after, and to come back and come ready,” Gillispie said. “I think it’s unfortunate that we couldn’t get these games in today with the rain coming in, but I think for both teams it’s going to be a good decision to have a doubleheader starting at noon [Sunday].”

Iowa finishes the season series against 21-17 Nebraska Sunday, with games scheduled for noon and 2:30 p.m. Both contests will be streamed on BTN+.

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