CEDAR FALLS — Behind home runs from Brittney Krodinger and Jaclyn Spencer — along with a seven-inning, one earned-run pitching performance from Spencer — Northern Iowa softball defeated Iowa 4-2 Tuesday night at the UNI-Dome.
UNI’s power surge this season isn’t an accident. Coach Ryan Jacobs emphasized a philosophy and subsequent film study and training geared toward hitting for power and emphasizing launch angle, a skill that’s become in vogue in recent seasons across baseball and softball.
“More bang for your buck,” Jacobs said of embracing power hitting. “We found out that hitting singles just wasn’t scoring runs. So we had to focus on something that everyone on the team could do, and that’s hit doubles.”
Krodinger — the Panthers’ leadoff hitter — answered Iowa’s first inning run with a leadoff homer, her ninth of the season. UNI (23-22) was out-hit 6-3 by Iowa (18-29), but its two home runs and one double were a perfect example of why Jacobs had his team go all-in on hitting for power.
The best example of the power-hitting emphasis is junior shortstop Sammey Bunch. Bunch has 16 homers, a UNI single-season record, along with 10 doubles and 46 runs batted in.
“(Bunch is) always wanting some phase of her game to be improved and last year at the end of the year we all talked about being more physical and the weight room was a big key,” Jacobs said. “Yes, we’ve focused a little bit different offensively, but I think it has a lot more to do with their effort in the weight room and being stronger.”
Bunch credits her power surge to that extra work in the weight room during the offseason, along with work on improving her approach and launch angle.
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“We talk about (launch angle) all the time,” Bunch said. “Try to get to a certain degrees and a range. Try to hit doubles, and if you’re lucky, doubles (will) turn into home runs every once in a while.”