The Iowa State softball team returned to action on Saturday, playing in two elimination games in the Columbia Regional at Columbia, Missouri. The first game was largely controlled by Cyclone pitcher Karlie Charles, giving Iowa State a 4-0 win of the University of Illinois at Chicago.
UIC pitcher Christina Toniolo cruised through the first two innings, but ran into trouble in the top of the third. Cyclone catcher Mikayla Ramos hit a two-run home run to right field, driving in Sami Williams.
This was the 13th home run of the season for Ramos. This home run also gave Ramos the Iowa State record for RBI in a season with 56.
Freshman Milaysia Ochoa extended the Cyclone lead to four by driving in a pair of runs on an infield single.
Iowa State pitcher Karlie Charles finished off a brilliant outing, pitching seven shutout innings. Charles allowed just four hits, and did not walk a single batter.
The defense did its part for Iowa State, making multiple outstanding plays to halt any scoring opportunities that UIC had.
The first NCAA Tournament win in school history for the Cyclones meant that the team would match up with Northern Iowa once again, this time in an elimination game. This was the fourth game to take place between these two teams this season.
The Cyclones wasted no time in the second game, scoring three runs in the first inning. Sami Williams drove in the first on a no out single. This was followed by an RBI single off the bat of Mikayla Ramos. Ramos ended up scoring on a wild pitch to finish off an eventful top of the first inning.
Saya Swain took the circle for the Cyclones, but was replaced by Shannon Mortimer after walking the first two batters of the game. Mortimer was able to escape the first inning jam thanks to a line drive to Sami Williams resulting in a double play.
UNI was not able to plate a run until the sixth inning. Kamryn Shaffer doubled down the third base line, bringing the Panthers within two. A one out single by Brooke Snider tied the game at three. Karlie Charles entered the game for the Cyclones, and was able to escape the inning.
With two outs in the seventh inning, Carli Spelhaug hit a solo home run to left field to put the Cyclones on top 4-3.
Karlie Charles retired the final three UNI batters in order to give Iowa State a 4-3 win.
Coach Jamie Pinkerton discussed how the mindset of the team as they entered the day on the brink of elimination.
"Being together each game is a bonus, it gets us better, and it is an opportunity to continue to get better and gain postseason experience."
Carli Spelhaug expressed her excitement during her home run that gave the Cyclones the lead in the seventh inning against UNI.
"It was unreal. I can't say that I wasn't nervous during that at bat, just because we are not ready for the season to be over."
Iowa State will match up with Missouri on Sunday at 1 p.m. Central Standard Time. The Cyclones will need to win two games in a row to advance, while Missouri would need just one to knock out Iowa State.