Fort Collins, Colorado, is Iowa State’s next destination as the Cyclones will play in the championship round of the National Invitational Softball Championship (NISC) from Friday to Sunday at TC Colorado Field.
“We’ll need to stay within ourselves, controlling the controlables and playing Iowa State softball against our opponents,” said sophomore Talyn Lewis.
The Cyclones, who are 35-23 (7-11 Big 12) this season and won the Ames regional, begin the championship round with a matchup against defending NISC champions, the Loyola Marymount Lions.
One player who has played well all season and played well in regionals for Iowa State is junior shortstop Sami Williams who was named MVP of the regional.
In their three regional games, Williams had eight hits in 12 at-bats, scored six runs, had five doubles and two RBI’s.
“I came out played my game and it paid off,” Williams said.
Winners of the Reno regional, the Lions opened the regional with a loss to the host team, the Nevada Wolfpack but then won four games in a row including two wins over the Wolfpack.
Loyola Marymount has a record of 35-18 (11-4 WCC) and features a group of solid pitchers and potent offensive weapons.
Sophomores Molly Grumbo and Andrea Gonzalez are two of the top hitters in the West Coast Conference as Grumbo has 55 hits this season, which is third among WCC player, and Gonzalez has 53 hits, which is fourth among WCC players.
As a team, the Lions had a .269 batting average, which is second among the seven WCC teams.
In the pitcher’s circle, Loyola Marymount is led by sophomore Linnay Wilson, junior Samantha Manti and senior Hannah Bandimere.
These three pitchers have the best ERA’s in the conference with Bandimere have the best ERA with a 2.82 ERA, Manti is second with a 2.83 ERA and Wilson is third with a 3.42 ERA.
The Lions and Cyclones will play on Friday at 1 p.m.
Following their matchup with Loyola Marymount, Iowa State will either play the Liberty Flames or the University of Texas Arlington Mavericks.
The Flames have a record of 40-20 (16-5 Atlantic Sun) and the Mavericks have a record of 33-27 (17-10 Sun Belt).
Liberty won the first ever NISC tournament in 2017.
Among the four teams in the NISC championship round, the Mavericks have the batting average with a .305 batting average, the Flames are second with a .275 average, the Cyclones are third with a .270 average and the Lions are fourth with a .269 average.
In the field, Iowa State is the top fielding team as they have a .971 fielding percentage, UT Arlington is second with a .968 percentage, Liberty is third with a .966 percentage and Loyola Marymount has a .950 percentage which is fourth.
Lastly, Iowa State has the most wins against power five schools (schools from the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12 and SEC) with 11, Liberty has six, UT Arlington has four and Loyola Marymount has one.
“They're all good teams, and we’ve got to continue to play at the level that we have been in the second half of the season,” said Iowa State head coach Jamie Pinkerton.
The NISC championship round will run from Friday to Sunday, you can find the bracket below.