After their second-place finish in the National Invitational Softball Championship, Iowa State's softball team must now shift their focus to preparing for the 2020 season.
The Cyclones graduate eight seniors in pitchers Savannah Sanders and Emma Hylen; outfielders Kirsten Caudle, Sydney Stites and Taylor Nearad; infielders Jaclyn Chairez and Sally Woolpert and catcher Kaylee Bosworth from a team that went 37-25 (7-11 Big 12).
This year, the Cyclones finished with a winning record for the first time since 1995, had their highest win total since 1981 and made their first postseason appearance since 1989.
Iowa State will have to fill some big shoes to fill as Hylen and Sanders, who combined for 25 of the team's 37 wins this season, depart from the pitching circle.
Hylen earned a spot on team 2019 NFCA All-Midwest third team.
Freshman Shannon Mortimer, junior Tatum Ksiazek and freshman Emilie Guerra all pitched this season, and are returning to the team next season. Mortimer and Ksiazek combined for the other 12 wins Iowa State had this past season.
Incoming freshman pitchers Karlie Charles and Janessa Jasso could see some playing time next season because the Cyclone pitching staff is relatively young. Ksiazek will be the only pitcher who is an upperclassman.
Charles is the 137th ranked recruit country in the class of 2019, according to Softball America, and earned a spot on the All-District team en route to a 2018 UIL 5A High School Championship in Texas, according to a Cyclones.com press release.
Jasso is from Dos Palo, California, where she earned a spot on the All-State small school team and was named the MVP of her league.
The Cyclones will have an experienced infield in the 2020 season as they return full-time starters junior third baseman Logan Schaben and senior shortstop Sami Williams.
Shortstop Sami Williams returns the ball to the mound in the top of the seventh inning during Iowa State's loss to Texas Tech. Iowa State lost…
Williams led the Cyclones offensively in eight offensive statistics and was named an All-American Honorable Mention by Softball America.
In the infield, Iowa State loses second basemen Chairez and Woolpert. They had a combined 69 starts this season.
Second base was a spot that saw three different starters this season, but only one returns next season in freshman Kasey Simpson.
Simpson started 49 games for the Cyclones this season and had .955 fielding percentage. She was sixth among Cyclone players who made more than 21 starts this season.
Woolpert started all 62 games for Iowa State this season and had a batting average of .250 — the seventh best on the team.
One player who could earn the starting job is junior Talyn Lewis, who had the third-best batting average of .301 before an ACL tear ended her season.
A couple of incoming freshman infielders that could make an early impact for the Cyclones are Jessica Balich and Carli Spelhaug.
Balich batted .441 in her junior season and participated in ICA All-State and Southtown All-Area honors.
Spelhaug won back-to-back state championships while playing high school ball at Pleasant Valley High School and was named captain of the IHSAA All-State tournament team in 2018.
In the outfield, Iowa State returns only one out of three starters from the 2019 team with senior Hannah Carter.
Sophomore Skyler Ramos could fill one of the starting spots as she started 19 games in 2018. However, she only played in 19 games this past season, mostly as a pinch runner.
Junior outfielder Bryn Hanrahan is another option for the Cyclones; she's made seven starts in the past two seasons but has a batting average of .065 in her college tenure.
Incoming freshmen Makaylin Powers and Alesia Ranches could work their way into the lineup.
Powers batted .495, hit seven home runs, had 40 RBI’s and earned All-State honors in 2018.
“She plays for the Iowa Premier, which is a very good travel program here in Iowa. She'll come in and hopefully be able to contribute right away,” Iowa State coach Jamie Pinkerton said in a press release.
Ranches is a versatile player that played in the outfield and the middle-infield positions. Ranches was a part of a team that won a OIA state championship in 2018 and earned spots on the All-OIA First Team and All-State by Scoring Live First Team as a junior.
At catcher, Bosworth was the second-best hitter on the team, with a .326 batting average and started in 55 games this season.
Freshman Mikayla Ramos seems to be the front runner to earn the starting catcher job as she played in 43 games, started in 21 games and had a .281 batting average, which was fourth-best on the team.
In total, the Cyclones will return six players who made more than 20 starts last season in the field and two pitchers who played in 35 games this season.