Offense improving for Iowa Softball

Three major offensive categories indicate Iowa’s offense has improved since a rough 2014 campaign: batting average, slugging percentage, and on base percentage.

Iowa batted just .250 in 2014, third-lowest in the Big Ten. Senior Megan Blank, as usual, boosted that number by hitting .361.

So far in 2015, the team has the average up to .275, with four players now hitting over .300.

Two of those players are Kaitlyn Mullarkey and Holly Hoffman, each of whom are batting .311. Mullarkey has just 61 at-bats on the season compared to 103 for Hoffman, but expect her to continue to get more playing time as she continues to prove her value to the lineup

Slugging Percentage is also up to .409 from .376 last season. Extra base hits, which the stat takes into account, have been the cause for the big jump.

After recording 59 doubles all of last season, Iowa already has 67 this year. Its 26 homers are also three more than last season’s total. Blank ranks third in the conference in doubles with 13, and her .716 slugging percentage is easily the team’s best.

On base percentage is another statistic improved after last season. It is up from .321 in 2014 to .357 in 2015. Despite the improvement, the number still ranks last in the Big Ten.

The team has 127 walks total, which is tied for eighth in the conference. Part of the issue there is that Blank is the only real threat to draw intentional walks from opposing teams.

The bottom line here is that the offense has not only gotten better from last season, but has consistently improved as the 2015 season has gone along.

Iowa ranks second in the conference in at-bats, which has boosted some of their offensive totals in contrast to Big Ten opponents.

But with Sammi Gyerman hitting .354 and Megan Blank doing her thing, the recent emergence of Mullarkey and Hoffman is a promising sign for the Hawks in terms of offensive production.

As a team, this rise in output could not come soon enough, because while the hitting has been better in 2015, pitching has been a monumental flaw.

With sophomore Shayla Starkenburg carrying much of the load, the team’s ERA has risen from 3.94 in 2014 to 7.08 this year.

Starkenburg has shown she can hold her own, but it’s clear that this team will rely on the continued improvement of their offense in how they finish out the remainder of their season.

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