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By Ben Frotscher
A two-time state champion, Jena Young is a rising star for the Iowa softball program.
Jena Young PHOTO: Stephen Mally/hawkeyesports.com Iowa Hawkeyes infielder Jena Young (24) before their game at Pearl Field in Iowa City, Iowa on Saturday, April 27, 2024.

Jena Young made an instant impact for the Iowa softball team during her freshman season.

Starting every game for the Hawkeyes at shortstop or second base, the Winterset, Iowa, native earned a .373 batting average and produced 53 hits during the regular season, which was most by anyone on the squad. She played a vital role for Head Coach Renee Gillispie.

“We knew Jena was going to be a huge threat for us at the plate—she proved that throughout her decorated high school career,” says Gillispie, whose staff started recruiting Young when she was in seventh grade. “After earning her starting spot at shortstop and batting second in the lineup, she’s setting a high bar for the years to come.”

We caught up with Young, an exercise science major, to learn more about her and how she adjusted so quickly to Division I softball.

Why play college softball for Iowa?

I’ve always liked the Hawks. I wanted to stay close to home, and when I came here on my visit, I saw a lot of familiar faces and just got along really well with the coaches and my teammates. I also just love Iowa City.

Has there been anyone on the team who has helped you adjust to collegiate softball?

When I first got here, I got to know everyone pretty quickly because of Bridget Stover, who was a high school teammate of mine. She really helped me get to know the entire team, and we’re a really tight group now.

What was your favorite moment of your freshman year?

Our walk-off win over Michigan State was definitely a highlight for me. It was in Iowa City, and there were a lot of fans here. I tripled to begin the inning, and Soo-Jin Berry knocked me in to win the game. That was a lot of fun.

You started every game as a freshman. How did you seamlessly go from high school star to one of Iowa’s top players this year?

My goal for the year was to adapt to playing college softball and just enjoy the moments. While the stage is certainly bigger, I really focused on playing softball and believing in myself. I tried to slow the game down and not make it as big as it could be. It’s just a game.

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Jena Young

#24 Jena Young


Shortstop & Second Base


Incoming Sophomore


Winterset, Iowa



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