April 17, 2014
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.
By JIL PRICE
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- While neither saw themselves attending the University of Iowa and playing softball for the Hawkeyes early on, Iowa natives Kara Misel and Shayla Starkenburg were hooked after taking a visit to Iowa City.
"I didn't necessarily know I wanted to come to Iowa, but I knew I wanted to stay close to home and that I wanted something different than Solon," Misel said. "A lot of my family came to the University of Iowa, and being so close and being able to play on Pearl Field in summer tournaments was awesome too. That had a big impact on me.
"I always wanted to go somewhere far away," Starkenburg said. "Somewhere warm where I could play year-round, but as I got older I just wanted to go somewhere closer to home and where my family is. I took a visit to Iowa and ended up loving the campus and the team. I knew this was where I wanted to go after that.
"The biggest thing was the coaches wanting to improve my pitching. A lot of places looked at me as another pitcher, but here we talked about things that I could improve on and what we could work on together."
UI head coach Marla Looper and her staff do a lot of recruiting in the state of Iowa trying to find the right fit for the Hawkeye softball program, but Misel and Starkenburg are the only native Iowans on the 16 player roster.
"Part of the reason we liked them in the recruiting process was seeing them in the fire," said Looper. "It's hard to teach. Not that they're perfect, but seeing their demeanor and their presence on the field was big. When their teammates count on them are they there? We saw that from both of them.
"There is something to be said about being an in-state kid and representing your state at the state institution. I think they take pride in that."
Misel and Starkenburg feel that pride when they put on the Hawkeye uniform and could not be happier about their decisions to attend the UI and represent the softball team in front of family and friends.
"The best part of putting on a Hawkeye uniform is being from Iowa," Misel said. "I owe allegiance to the state, it's where I'm from. I'm playing for this state. I think it's all that I expected and more. I didn't expect it to be as fun and awesome as it is."
"The best part about putting on a Hawkeye uniform is being able to represent the team and being able to represent the school in front of my family," Starkenburg said. "It's exciting that they can come and watch me play and support me. It's nice to have them in the stands."
Fans can watch the Iowa natives and their Hawkeye teammates in action this weekend at Pearl Field when Iowa hosts Michigan State for a three-game series. Friday's opening game begins at 6 p.m. (CT) followed by 2 p.m. and 1 p.m. starts Saturday and Sunday.