The Iowa softball is ranked 21st nationally as the Hawkeyes get set for the start of Big Ten play this weekend. Iowa is off to a 27-5 start which is not a surprise considering the Hawks have 10 letterwinners back from the 2004 squad that qualified for the NCAA Tournament. Among those returning is the pitching combination of senior Lisa Birroci and Junior Ali Arnold. Iowa coach Gayle Blevins says they’ve also brought in some nice new players to mix with the experience. Among the newcomers is freshman Emily Nichols who has already broken Iowa’s single season home run record with 12. Blevins says they felt confident Nichols would be a good player and she says it’s was nice to see her make the first year adjustment to the college game.The power game has been a big part of Iowa’s success as the Hawks have slammed 38 homers to this point. Blevins says while they do play for the big inning more often, they still use the bunt game that is such a big part of the sport. She says that all depends on who they’re playing.The Hawkeyes visit UNI Wednesday in non-conference play. They open the Big Ten race on Friday at top-ranked Michigan.