Feb. 7, 2013
Editor's Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa's Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa softball program has a longstanding tradition of excellence.
Iowa has made four Women's College World Series appearances (1995, 1996, 1997, 2001) and it has played in 16 NCAA Tournaments in school history. The 16 appearances are the second most in Big Ten history, and the four WCWS appearances equal the second most in conference history.
The Hawkeyes have won four Big Ten Conference regular season championships (1989, 1997, 2000, 2003) and two Big Ten Tournament titles (2001, 2003).
Last season, head coach Marla Looper led the Hawkeyes to a runner-up finish in the Big Ten -- the program's highest finish since winning the league title in 2003.
This season, the Hawkeyes are looking to add to the rich tradition found in Iowa City.
"We are writing a new legacy and a new history," said Looper. "We have built off the tradition and history this program has, but we cannot dwell on it nor rely on it. We are the definition of Iowa softball. What is that definition going to be? There are going to be some highs and some lows, but that final definition at the end of the year... that is them (the players) and what they want to get out of it."
The 2013 version appreciates the program's rich tradition and holds it in high regard. The team is proud of the step forward it took a year ago. Its concern right now: writing its own definition of Iowa softball.
"Each day, we write what our definition is following practice, good or bad," said Looper, now in her third season at the helm of the program. "We put a poster together and will physically post it in the locker room. We talked about it on day one, and every day leading up to the season. We will talk about it throughout the season, and continue to write our definition.
"They are writing and reflecting on their own individual definitions as well, which in turn, reflects on our team's definition."
Each day, the Hawkeyes set the tone for what they want to accomplish, on and off the field.
"It gets us thinking, 'how are we representing Iowa?'" said Looper. "When we get on the road, it is not just about softball. We are out in the world, and we are a reflection of the University.
"You see that with men's and women's basketball and other teams right now. They are on TV, traveling around. They are playing hard and representing all of us right now, and that is huge. Now, we are about to take on that role this week.
"We want to uphold that Iowa name, and make sure we are doing it a service, not a disservice. We talk about the Iowa way; we are still defining the 'Iowa softball way.' That should be with grit, determination, discipline, integrity, and constantly representing Iowa."
The Hawkeyes represented the Iowa name well last season, winning five-straight Big Ten series to close out the season, nearly capturing the league title with a 16-8 mark. It was the first time the team had won five straight series since the 2004 season.
"We were exciting to watch last year," said Looper. "We will be more exciting to watch this year, with more fire, energy and confidence. That definition is ever-changing, and hopefully, changing in a positive way."
Iowa opens the season Friday in Houston, Texas, facing Lipscomb (11:30 a.m., CT) and Texas State (2 p.m.) at the Hilton Houston Plaza Classic.