Iowa softball set for Torero Classic in San Diego

Iowa softball will play five games in three days with doubleheaders on Friday and Saturday.


Ayrton Breckenridge

Iowa utility player Denali Loecker catches the ball for a force out during a softball game between Iowa and Northwestern at Bob Pearl Softball Field on Saturday, April 17, 2021. The Wildcats defeated the Hawkeyes 9-7.

Ben Palya, Sports Reporter

After four games to open the 2022 season, Iowa softball head coach Renee Gillispie is confident in her lineup.

The Hawkeyes went 3-1 in their opening weekend at the Northern Lights, Southern Nights Invitational in Leesburg, Florida. Iowa plated 26 runs through four games.

“One through nine is looking pretty strong right now, and it is good to see where we are on the offensive side of it,” Iowa head coach Renee Gillispie said. “With our pitchers, we are learning the system and figuring out what we need to do, and we will be okay. We are just putting it all together right now.”

Iowa played two ranked teams, going 1-1. The Hawkeyes handled No. 24 Liberty with a 7-0 victory but fell in five innings to No. 19 Kentucky, 11-3.

The Hawkeyes left eight runners stranded against Kentucky. Iowa had the bases loaded two separate times but couldn’t convert. Kentucky, however, capitalized by scoring 11 runs on 12 hits.

Despite the loss to Kentucky, sophomore pitcher Denali Loecker said the young Hawkeyes learned a lot in their first weekend together.

“It shows we can compete with everyone,” sophomore pitcher Denali Loecker said. “We beat Liberty and lost to Kentucky, which shows we have room for improvement, but we can compete with the top teams.”

Freshman catcher Tristin Doster made a big impact in her first weekend as a Hawkeye, batting .429 with a .857 slugging percentage — topping the Hawkeye leaderboard.

Doster hit a grand slam for her first career collegiate home run against Liberty. Overall, she tallied six RBIs and three runs, earning a spot on the Northern Lights, Southern Nights Invitational All-Tournament team.

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Doster said her selection to the All-tournament team gave her a boost of confidence heading into the season.

“It was a good goal to go out and play the way I did the first weekend,” Doster said. “I need to keep in mind my long-term goal for this season of staying consistent and being the player I know I am.”

Doster paced a lineup with five players that batted over .375 on the weekend. The Hawkeye lineup hit .327 overall.

This weekend, Iowa will hit the road again and head to San Diego for the Torero Classic. Iowa will compete against reigning Big East champion DePaul, South Dakota State, UC Riverside, San Diego, and Oregon State.

Iowa’s trip to San Diego will be a homecoming for a piece of the Hawkeye roster, as seven players are from California — pitchers Breanna Vasquez, Devyn Greer, and Katherine Serna, infielders Sammy Diaz, Kalena Burns, and Amber DeSena, and outfielder Nia Carter.

Six players are from southern California, giving family members an easy opportunity to cheer on their athletes. Head coach Renee Gillispie said some Hawkeye softball alumni will also be attending the Torero Classic.

“We always have such a great crowd out there, and their parents bring everyone out to the game,” Gillispie said. “It’s going to be a big family reunion out there, and we are looking forward to our alumni coming out to see some of the games.”