The Iowa State Cyclones (28-20, 4-10 Big 12) lost to the Oklahoma Sooners (44-2, 14-0 Big 12) in both games of a doubleheader on Friday.
In the second inning of both games, Oklahoma got out to an early lead and did not turn back, winning 8-3 and 9-2.
The Sooners, ranked No. 1 in the national polls, haven’t lost a conference game since 2017.
Defense and walks allowed
In the two games combined, the Cyclones allowed 12 walks.
On the year, the Cyclones have allowed 111 walks in 313.2 innings pitched, which equates to about one walk per three innings. Iowa State’s pitching struggled with getting ahead in the count today.
“We didn’t work ahead in the count, which you have to do with a good hitting team, especially one that capitalizes in situations with runners on base like Oklahoma,” said coach Jamie Pinkerton.
Although the Cyclones did give them more free bases than they would have liked via walk, they played defense well.
“We’ve really been more consistent at making less errors and limiting the mistakes that allow the other team to gain free bases,” said Sydney Stites, who hit a home run for the Cyclones in the seventh inning of game one.
The long ball
Over the two games, Oklahoma hit six home runs.
Those home runs came from only three Sooners, who hit two each.
Four of those came in the first game of the day.
In a second inning where the Sooners batted around, first baseman Shay Knighten homered to the deepest part of the field in center, catcher Lynnsie Elam homered off the left field foul pole, and right fielder Jocelyn Alo hit a grand slam to right-center.
“Solo homers don’t beat you; it is the two and three run ones that really hurt,” Pinkerton said.
Alo’s homer came after Caleigh Clifton walked to load the bases.
Knighten once again homered in the top of the fifth.
As for game two, Alo homered in the third inning to bring the Sooners’ lead to 5-0 and Elam hit one in the fifth.
With a Big 12 leading 88 home runs, the Sooners are known for their power.
“Pitching wise, we knew that they are going to hit home runs; we just can’t put people on them in front of them,” Pinkerton said.
On the flip side, the Cyclones have not been much of a home run hitting team this year, hitting 36, which accounts to less than one per game.
Nonetheless, the Cyclones hit two home runs of their own on Friday.
Sydney Stites sent a solo shot over the wall in the bottom of the seventh inning in game one and Taylor Nearad hit a two-run one in the bottom of the third of the second game.
“Some of us are focusing too much on the front of the [Oklahoma] jersey, but for me I welcome the challenge,” Nearad said.
Success at the plate
Oklahoma pitcher Giselle Juarez, an All-American who transferred from Arizona State, struck out 10 Cyclone batters in the first game, including a third inning where she struck out the side.
Juarez, who ranks second in the Big 12 in strikeouts, is one of the nation’s best pitchers. In fact, she has won the Big 12 Pitcher of the Week award four times this year, including the last two.
Even with those strikeouts, Iowa State managed to garner some success at the plate in the first game, putting up three runs on Juarez, who has an ERA (earned run average) of 1.49 on the season.
In the second game, Iowa State faced Mariah Lopez, who had possessed an even-better, ninth-ranked nationally, 1.00 ERA.
Nonetheless, the Cyclones pushed across two runs in the four innings that Lopez pitched before Shannon Saile entered for the last three.
Lopez and Saile put up a total of nine strikeouts.
Out of its 44 games this year, Oklahoma has used the run rule in 20 of them, which makes Iowa State’s ability to go all seven innings notable.
The Cyclones are not known as a strikeout-prone team, as they ranked third lowest in the Big 12 coming into the day. Therefore, that makes the performance today at the plate even less concerning.
“We kept swinging at the high pitch in key situations but with a team like that, we just have to worry about Iowa State,” Pinkerton said.