COLUMN: Hawkeye softball program lays another egg

     Question: Name the most successful overall Hawkeye women’s athletic program ever. I’m guessing many of you might select the women’s basketball team, led by C. Vivian Stringer in the 80’s and early 90’s and current coach Lisa Bluder.

     After all, the Lady Hawks have been to the NCAA tournament 24 times, won 11 Big Ten titles, played in 6 Sweet Sixteens and 3 Elite Eights.  They also made it to the Final Four in 1993.

     Well you’re wrong, the answer is the Iowa women’s softball team. From 1988 to 2010 the Iowa softball program was an elite Big Ten program under hall of fame coach, Gayle Blevins.

     I came across some statistics dug up by Scott Dochterman of the Land of 10 staff. When Blevins retired, she had won 1,245 games, second most in NCAA history. She took Iowa to 16 NCAA tournaments. And qualified for the Women’s College World Series four times.

     Blevin’s teams never had a losing record and only finished under .500 in Big Ten play once, her first year as coach. In fact her Big Ten record was 349-154. Overall she was 945-440. In Dochterman’s article, he makes a case that Blevin’s teams were the second most successful program overall in Iowa history, right behind the wrestling program.

     Blevin’s teams won an amazing 53 games in 1991, 52 in 1997 and 50 in 2005.

     The current Hawk softball team has been on a downward spiral ever since Belvins retired. Current coach Marl Looper hasn’t come anywhere close to making the NCAA tournament.

     Her Big Ten record is 68-113 and overall 172-247. Those numbers don’t cut it. Her critics claim she neglects the state of Iowa when it comes to recruiting. Look around the Big Ten and you’ll find many of the top players hail from our state.

     I’m guessing more are declining to even take a look at Looper’s program.

     According to Dochterman, former Ankeny Centennial C Kendyl Lindaman was named the Big Ten player of the year the last two seasons. She’s a Minnesota Gopher.

     The Gophers have five Iowans on their roster, Wisconsin four and Michigan is home to one of the state’s best former pitchers, Sarah Schaefer of Waukee.

     The Hawkeyes have a total of six native Iowans and only one is a senior. A change needs to be made by AD Gary Barta. The big question remains, will he make that change? The last time he fired a coach from a women’s athletic program it came with a steep price, a $6.5 million settlement for sexual discrimination.





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