Hawkeyes enjoy a fun evening with some of their most loyal fans
UI softball enters 2016 season with depth in the circle, behind the plate
UI softball team adopts a family for the 3rd straight year
Hawkeyes add depth, speed, and power for 2016
UI softball gains experience in fall season
Illinois 12, Iowa 7 Sunday, April 5, 2015
Illinois 15, Iowa 7 Saturday, April 4, 2015
Iowa Softball Alumni Day
The Hawkeyes defeat Ohio State 3-2 on Senior Day to give Head Coach Marla Looper her 100th win
The Hawkeyes fall to the UNI Panthers 9-8 in Iowa City
In 2015, Looper led the Hawkeyes to their deepest Big Ten Tournament run since 2008. After earning the No. 10 seed with an 8-15 conference record (19-40 overall), the Hawkeyes overcame a three-run deficit against seventh-seeded Rutgers to win the opening round of the tournament on May 7. The Hawkeyes went on to upset the nationally ranked Gophers with a 2-0 victory, securing Iowa's third victory over a ranked opponent on the season (No. 17 UCF, No. 4 Michigan). After falling behind early in its semifinal game against third-seeded Nebraska, Iowa rallied to come within three runs, but could not complete the comeback as the Huskers notched the 9-6 victory.
Megan Blank earned her fourth-straight first team All-Big Ten honor and was a first team NFCA All-Midwest Region selection after leading the Hawkeyes in batting average, slugging percentage, on base percentage, hits, doubles, triples, home runs, RBIs, and total bases. She was also named to the conference's All-Defensive team.
The Hawkeyes excelled in the classroom in 2015. Three Hawkeyes -- juniors Haley Hansel and Whitney Repole and sophomore Kara Misel -- were named to the spring Academic All-Big Ten team, while Hansel and freshmen Sarah Kurtz and Cheyenne Pratt were recognized as National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-American Scholar Athletes. Hansel was also named a 2015 Big Ten distinguished scholar.
In her final season in a Hawkeye uniform, Blank broke or tied five school records. She hit a blistering .442 in her final season to break Iowa's single-season batting record for the second time in her career. Blank's .442 effort in her senior campaign brought her career average to .410, which bested the program's 18-year-old record of .409 set by Lea Twigg in 1997.
Blank also surpassed the 18-year-old career doubles record of 52 set by Kari Knopf in 1997. She ended her four-year career with 63 doubles after hitting a total of 20 in 2015 to tie Iowa's single season school record (Liz Dennis, 2002). Blank hit her last three doubles in the semifinal round of the Big Ten Tournament against No. 3-seeded Nebraska, tying the program record for doubles in a single game.
Following the 2015 season, Blank signed a professional contract in the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) with the Chicago Bandits. She became the first Hawkeye to play professionally since 2010, and the eighth to extend her career into the professional ranks in program history.
Looper collected her 100th career victory in the 2014 season finale, when Erin Erickson delivered a walkoff, two-run home run to lift the Hawkeyes past Ohio State, 3-2. On the season, Iowa posted 16 wins -- nine in conference action and three over ranked opponents (16-30-1).
Blank earned her third-straight first team All-Big Ten honor and was a second team NFCA All-Midwest Region selection after leading the Hawkeyes in batting average, slugging percentage, hits, doubles, triples, RBIs and walks. Kayla Massey earned her second career Big Ten Pitcher of the Week nod on March 31 after recording two complete game wins over Wisconsin. Three earned Academic All-Big Ten accolades including Hansel, Repole and Michelle Zoeller.
Looper led the Hawkeyes to 30 wins in 2013 (30-24) in her third year, marking the most wins for the program since finishing 42-16 in 2009. Iowa posted six wins over ranked opponents. Three Hawkeyes earned All-Big Ten honors -- Megan Blank was named to the first team, Johnnie Dowling earned second team honors, and Kayla Massey was named to the Big Ten All-Defensive team at pitcher. Blank earned her second-straight first team accolade, becoming the sixth Hawkeye in program history to earn first team honors in each of her first two seasons.
Blank was also named a 2013 NFCA First Team All-Midwest Region selection, earning her second all-region honor in as many seasons. Blank became the sixth Hawkeye in program history to garner all-region honors in each of her first two seasons. In the classroom, a school-record 10 Hawkeyes were named to the 2013 spring Academic All-Big Ten team.
During her second season with the Hawkeyes in 2012, Looper led the team to a runner-up finish in the Big Ten -- the program's highest finish since winning the league title in 2003. Iowa dropped two of its first three conference series before winning five straight to close out the season. It was the first time the team had won five straight series since the 2004 season.
Iowa entered the final weekend with a conference title within reach, but it couldn't close the gap with Michigan despite taking 2-of-3 games at Minnesota. The Hawkeyes finished with a 27-26 overall and 16-8 conference record in 2012.
Five players garnered All-Big Ten recognition, including three first team selections. Senior Liz Watkins, sophomore Kayla Massey and freshman Megan Blank earned first team accolades, sophomore Michelle Zoeller was a second team honoree and junior Johnnie Dowling was a third team selection.
Blank also garnered NFCA second team all-region honors during her freshman campaign. She is the ninth Hawkeye to earn first team All-Big Ten and all-region honors during her freshman season.
The Hawkeyes finished second in the Big Ten in pitching (2.31 ERA) and third in fielding (.967). The squad turned 26 double plays during the course of the season to rank sixth nationally in double plays per game (.49).
Looper guided the Hawkeyes to a 27-24 overall and a 9-11 Big Ten record in her first season in Iowa City. The first year head coach led the UI to a pair of six game winning streaks in her opening campaign and a tournament title at the Stetson Classic.
Iowa opened Big Ten Conference play strong, jumping out to an 8-3 record. Among the victories was a 4-2 triumph at No. 1 Michigan. The win, which pushed the overall mark to 26-16, was Iowa's first over a No. 1 ranked opponent since the 2005 season and the first over a ranked foe since 2008.
Looper's Hawkeyes were on the verge of completing a series sweep in Ann Arbor before the Wolverines rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the bottom of the seventh inning to claim the victory and halt Iowa's momentum.
A pair of Hawkeyes earned All-Big Ten recognition at the conclusion of the season. Liz Watkins was tabbed as a second team selection, while Katie Keim earned third team accolades.
Looper took over the reigns of the Iowa program after serving as an assistant coach at the University of Texas for 11 seasons (1999-2010). Looper helped lead the Longhorns to three College World Series appearances (2003, 2005 and 2006) and nine NCAA Tournament berths. She also helped guide Texas to back-to-back Big 12 regular season and tournament championships in 2002 and 2003 along with regular season championships in 2006 and 2010.
Looper served as Texas' pitching coach from 1999-2005 and mentored softball great Cat Osterman to the USA National Player of the Year Award in 2003, 2005 and 2006. Texas' pitching staff led the nation in earned run average in three of Looper's final four years as pitching coach, while Osterman led the country in 2003 and 2006 in both earned run average and strikeouts per seven innings. In 2006, Osterman set an NCAA record with a 15.4 strikeouts per seven innings mark and also led the nation as a freshman in 2002 with 12.7 strikeouts per seven innings. Osterman won a gold medal in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.
As an assistant at Texas, Looper was a part of a staff that was named the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Coaching Staff of the Year in 2002-03 and the Speedline/NFCA Midwest Regional Coaching Staff of the Year in 2005-06.
Looper held numerous responsibilities in her 11 years in Austin. In addition to her pitching coach duties from 1999-2005, Looper was also in charge of daily workouts and game decisions, and assisted with both the offense and defense. From 2006-10, she took over Texas' defense and was the offensive first base coach.
Looper was an assistant coach at the University of Kansas from 1996-99, where she served as recruiting coordinator and pitcher/catcher coach. She helped the Jayhawks to the NCAA Tournament in 1997 and 1999.
Prior to her stint in Lawrence, Looper was a pitcher/catcher coach at Iowa State from 1995-96.
Looper graduated from Florida State in 1995 with a bachelor's degree in nutrition and fitness. She was a pitching standout for the Seminoles, earning All-American honors as a junior in 1993. She led Florida State to the 1993 Women's College World Series and an NCAA Tournament appearance in 1994. Looper earned NCAA Regional All-Tournament honors and All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors in each of her two seasons at Florida State.
Looper's career earned run average of 0.78 at Florida State still stands as fifth best in Seminole history. Additionally, she led the 1993 and 1994 FSU squads in appearances, innings pitched, wins, strikeouts and ERA. In 2003, she was named one of the ACC's Top 50 softball players in conference history.
Prior to her two years in Tallahassee, Looper played at Crowder College in Neosho, MO, where she was selected as a National Junior College All-American as a freshman and sophomore and the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Tournament's most valuable player during her sophomore season. Looper helped Crowder to a runner-up finish in the NJCAA Tournament in both 1991 and 1992. Looper was inducted into the NJCAA Hall of Fame in 2006.