As the spring softball season approaches, the energy amongst the players and coaches is high.
“When you get to opening day, if you have a heartbeat and you are not excited, then there's something wrong with you, you don’t have the passion or love for the game,” Coach Jamie Pinkerton said.
The start to the 2020 spring season is near with the Cyclones playing in the Paradise Classic Thursday through Saturday in Honolulu.
“[I'm] eager to get out there and play someone else, try to see where we are as a team," Pinkerton said. "Doing that, we will find out who we are and what we got to work on and get better for Big 12 play."
The Cyclones will begin the series playing against the Memphis Tigers on Thursday. The Tigers went 22-33-0 in the 2019 season. The Cyclones will then face the Northern Colorado Bears on Friday. The Bears had an overall record of 14-39 ending the 2019 season. Iowa State will play Hawaii at 9 p.m. Friday, and the tournament will continue on Saturday. Hawaii went 33-16 last season.
The Cyclones ended the 2019 season with a 37-25 overall record and a 7-11 record in Big 12.
Freshman utility player Alesia Ranches from Ewa Beach, Hawaii, will perform in her first collegiate game in her home state during the Paradise Classic.
“Starting off the season in my hometown is really exciting," Ranches said. "My first collegiate game I get to play in front of all my family and friends."
Last year, the Cyclones said goodbye to eight seniors, leaving them with only three seniors this season. The 2020 roster includes nine freshmen, which makes for a younger, less experienced team. Though they are young, the team will rely on leadership from its seniors.
“I feel really good about [the outfield positions] even though we have two juniors; they haven’t had a lot of playing time but they have been in the program for two years now, and I feel like we are in a good spot," Pinkerton said. "They will have to knock some rust off."
For Ranches, her teammates are people that she'll be leaning on going into the 2020 campaign.
“For me, I love working with Logan [Schaben] and Sami [Williams] in the infield," Ranches said. "In the outfield, I have Skylar [Ramos]. They basically showed me how it is and set expectations for me”.
Ranches said going into her first game that she was a little nervous, but overall, she said she was excited.
After being named a preseason All-American, senior shortstop Williams said she's excited and optimistic for the season ahead of her.
“Every year, we want to make postseason, especially in my last year, I really want to strive for that as a team,” Williams said. “[...] I think the younger players have a lot of talent. The fall was a good way for them to get used to the pace of college athletics and seeing how we play together as a team. We are meshing well together right now, and it feels good going into this season”.
Schaben has also been an impactful player for the Cyclones. Schaben is primarily a third-baseman, and she tallied 29 base hits, 18 runs and 17 runs batted in last season.
“Our goal last year was to make regionals, and we fell short of that," Schaben said. "I think that would be a dream for all of us seniors to make it to regionals, especially as an underdog team this year with so many young girls."