On Friday, the Iowa State softball team returned to the Cyclone Sports Complex where it took on the Baylor Bears, who are 22-12 for the season, in the start of a three-game series.
After coming off a 10-4 victory over North Dakota State last weekend, the Cyclones were unable to fight their way through the Lady Bears. Iowa State fell in the first game of the series 9-5.
The Cyclones had difficulty battling back against Baylor throughout the game; the Cyclones could not capitalize offensively. As a result of the high-intensity pitching and hitting seen by the Bears, Iowa State did not see many moments to steal the energy or momentum.
Senior Sami Williams didn't disappoint. With a young Cyclone squad, Williams has proven her leadership and dominance throughout her career. In her final series at home as a Cyclone, Williams was the driving force behind her team in Friday’s match-up.
“Trying to take it all in throughout the week and leading up to it, just embracing our last time here," Williams said. "We try to go into every game with the same approach and same focus, but really, being the last series here, just taking in the atmosphere and having an extra appreciation for it.”
The Lady Bears came out hot, swinging hard against pitcher Ellie Spelhaug of the Cyclones. In the first half of the game, a handful of Baylor’s batters were swinging hard and making contact — they found two runs early on to take the lead.
“It’s just hard to dig a hole early and come back against the quality opponents; we play in one of the top two or three conferences in the country,” Head Coach Jamie Pinkerton said.
In the bottom of the second inning, Skyler Ramos was ready to send her teammates home. With Alesia Ranches and Sarah Tyree on base, Ramos had a triple base hit and two RBIs, bringing in the first points for Iowa State.
By the bottom of the fourth inning, the Cyclones were at a six-run deficit, even with 2 points on the board.
At the top of the fifth inning, Spelhaug was switched with Shannon Mortimer on the mound. Mortimer struck out two Baylor batters and only gave up one hit that was taken care of by her teammates to start off her battle.
“I felt pretty confident, coming off my injury, I felt that was the place where I needed to focus,” Mortimer said.
With fans screaming her name as she came up to the plate, Williams crushed a home run over left field. It was apparent that Williams came to win, with a big smile drawn across her face as she came back to her dugout to celebrate.
Williams expressed the desire to always advance her skills and performance to her fullest potential in order to help out her team.
“What can I do more for the team? [Can I do] more to get people in the right mindset or support them?" Williams said. "… I just try to go into every game with the same approach and same fight.”
Junior Sarah Tyree stood out amongst her teammates in terms of her offense against Baylor. In the bottom of the sixth, Tyree smacked a double to right center field that allowed Ranches to score.
Then, in the bottom of the seventh, with one more chance to put points on the board, Mikayla Ramos hit a homer over right-center field to bring her team one step closer.
It still wasn't enough — the Cyclones were unable to find more opportunities to score.
“Offensively, you go out and have five runs and 10 hits, you think that is a good day offensively, but it wasn’t good enough today,” Pinkerton said.
Despite the loss Iowa State had to endure, Pinkerton feels strongly that his team is fully capable of succeeding.
“We just need to figure it out, we got three weeks and I feel like we have the talent,” Pinkerton said.
The Cyclones continue the series against Baylor at 1 p.m. Saturday.