#40 Iowa Softball 2014 Preview

Iowa Hawkeyes

Overall Rank: #40
Conference Rank: #6 Big Ten
#40 Iowa Softball 2014 Preview
Iowa Team Page


Iowa is coming off of a couple rough years, not having made the NCAA Tournament since 2009. But that hasn't caused any lack of confidence in what the Hawkeyes are able to accomplish this season. This year's team is one made of youth.  Only five of this year's team members are an upperclassman and six of the 14 underclassmen are freshmen.

2013: 30-24, 8-15
2013 Postseason: None
Coach: Marla Looper

Field Players:
Despite the youth on the team, Iowa brings back numerous top hitters from last year, including the power tandem of Kayla Massey and Megan Blank. Blank is the team's star at the plate, as she led the team in average (.437), hits (69), doubles (15), home runs (11) and RBIs (59). Her 121 total bases were 33 more than Massey's 88. Massey ranked second on the team in doubles (seven), home runs (nine) and RBIs (40).  While the stats may not be as flashy as her teammates, Michelle Zoeller returns after starting 53 of the 54 games she played in. Zoeller finished last season with a .284 average with six doubles, three triples, two home runs and 25 runs batted in.

Massey isn't just a leader in the lineup, but in the pitching circle as well. The senior was last season's ace, having started 31 of the 34 games she appeared in. In nearly 200 innings, she compiled a 17-13 record with 3.09 ERA. She struck out 106 batters. Micaela Whitney also saw action in 17 games and walked away with a 4-2 record and 2.89 ERA. The rotation adds Shayla Starkenburg, who redshirted last year.

Who to Watch:
With six freshmen on the roster, it's easy to say the freshman class, but one to look for is Starkenburg. The redshirt freshman, an Iowa native, brings in quite a successful high school resume. As a senior, Starkenburg was named 5A Pitcher of the Year and a first team all-state honoree after posting a 31-0 record with an ERA of 0.58 and 222 strikeouts. Kara Misel comes to the Hawkeyes as a power hitter that will be play both corner positions. While in high school, the Iowa native hit double digit home runs on numerous occasions.

Final Projection:
Iowa has a chance to get back to the NCAA Tournament. Having Blank and Massey back helps that a lot. If the youth can fuse together with the upperclassmen, the Hawkeyes might be a team to look for, not only this season, but in upcoming ones as well.  Coach Marla Looper has set up a schedule that will not only get the team experience and a shot to win games, but also challenge them in preparation for the Big Ten conference season. The team opens the year at a tournament hosted by South Carolina, where the hosts will be a challenge after making the NCAA Tournament. A tournament at Baylor follows and there awaits two teams that made the tournament, Baylor and UAB. A weekend series at Mississippi State comes before the Hawkeyes go to Arizona to play in a tournament hosted by the national-power Wildcats. Other non-conference tilts include a weekend series against Texas and a double header against Missouri.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Kayla Massey, P/1B, 169
Hits: Megan Blank, IF, 69
Home Runs: Megan Blank, IF, 11
RBIs: Megan Blank, IF, 59
Runs: Megan Blank, IF, 39
Stolen Bases: Michelle Zoeller, IF, 7; Sammi Gyerman, OF, 7

Wins: Kayla Massey, P/1B, 17
Innings Pitched: Kayla Massey, P/1B, 199.1
Strikeouts: Kayla Massey, P/1B 106
Saves: Kayla Massey P/1B, 1; Micaela Whitney, P, 1


See All Softball Top 44 Previews