Angelina Allen Iowa State softball 2022 CyHawk

Angelina Allen celebrates after a strikeout in the Cyclones' 5-4 win against Iowa on April 26 at the Cyclone Sports Complex.

Iowa State softball finished its 2022 season May 12 with a loss to the nation's best team, the Oklahoma Sooners. 

The loss in the single-elimination Big 12 tournament moved Iowa State to 28-27 on the season, and with the team's final ratings power index 55th best in the nation, the Cyclones missed the NCAA tournament. 

With the season complete, here are the major takeaways of the 2022 campaign. 

Winning tight games

Iowa State softball played its first Big 12 series April 1 on the road against the Texas Longhorns. 

The Longhorns gained walk-off wins in two of three games. Iowa State had four one-run losses in as many weeks after completing the Texas series and two late losses to the University of Central Florida and Brigham Young University during this mid-season stretch. 

The Cyclones struggled to finish games, with a competitive Big 12 schedule approaching quickly. 

Fast forward to potentially the final game of the season for Iowa State at the Big 12 tournament in Oklahoma City. The Cyclones were in extra innings with the Baylor Bears looking to stay alive in the tournament. 

Head coach Jamie Pinkerton’s team needed to close out a tightly contested game. 

Iowa State freshman Angelina Allen came home from third on a sacrifice fly to score the winning run against Baylor and give Iowa State the win and ticket to the second round. 

Allen’s winning run was set up by centerfielder Skyler Ramos’ defensive play with the game on the line. Ramos fielded a single in the top of the eighth inning and caught a Baylor baserunner attempting to score with an accurate throw.

Ramos and Allen came up big on the conference’s biggest stage. In addition to keeping the team's postseason hopes alive by beating Baylor, Iowa State earned its fourth one-run win in three weeks. 

"If you work hard, the game pays you back," Pinkerton said. 

The team had made a turnaround in games decided by close margins and earned Iowa State marquee wins over evenly matched teams, including thrilling victories over Iowa and Kansas in front of home crowds. 

According to Pinkerton, playing solid and consistent defense, like the game-saving throw from Ramos against Baylor, was a huge turning point in the season.

The team’s wins in close games down the stretch came as the team was attempting to stay above .500 and while the team was jockeying for position in a crowded conference field. Entering the final week of the season, the Cyclones needed wins to gain position in the conference standings. 

Two one-run wins against Kansas to wrap up the regular season provided Iowa State the four seed and its highest finish in the Big 12 landscape in the 27-year history of the conference. 

Program trajectory

Iowa State finished the 2022 season with a 28-27 record. The winning season followed up a program-best in 2021 and provided the Cyclones their first consecutive winning seasons since the 1988 and 1989 seasons.

In 2021, Iowa State finished 34-23, reached the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1988 and earned the first top-25 ranking in program history. 

With key pieces leaving the lineup, Iowa State demonstrated the program’s greater trajectory during 2022. 

In Pinkerton’s four complete seasons with Iowa State, the Cyclones have finished above the .500 threshold three times. In the shortened 2020 season, the Cyclones finished 11-13. 

The Cyclone head coach said remaining above the threshold is a goal for his team. A winning season, for Pinkerton, means postseason hopes are alive. While Iowa State missed the postseason in 2022, its head coach had provided more winning seasons in five years with the team than the program earned in the 29 seasons before Pinkerton joined.

Pinkerton joined Iowa State for the 2018 season coming from Montana. In 2017, Pinkerton’s Grizzlies reached the NCAA tournament with a 35-24 overall record and won the Big Sky conference tournament. Pinkerton spent five seasons at Arkansas from 2005 to 2009 and led the Razorbacks to two NCAA regionals. 

As the Cyclone head coach, Pinkerton has a .524 overall winning percentage. The mark is higher than the prior four head coaches to hold the position. 

Jamie Pinkerton softball 2022 UNI

Iowa State head softball coach Jamie Pinkerton watches the Cyclones' during their 12–4 loss to Northern Iowa on April 6.

Finding a winning lineup

For the 2022 season, Iowa State would be without a program legend. 

Shortstop Sami Williams graduated and left Ames as the program’s all-time leader in home runs, hits and runs scored. Her departure left a large hole at the top of the lineup and the middle of the infield. 

In addition, fellow starting infielder Logan Schaben also graduated at the end of the historic 2021 season. Shockwaves were sent through the Iowa State lineup after the two senior infielders moved on. 

The lineup in 2022 would be built by a combination of veterans in new roles and entirely new faces. According to Pinkerton, the job of replacing Williams would be a team effort. The offensive output to replace the departing shortstop would not come from one voice, Pinkerton said. 

Among the new faces were two California natives in the infield. Freshman Angelina Allen started all 55 games for Iowa State at either first base or the designated player position. Kaylee Pond, who redshirted during 2021, received 47 starts in the infield and five starts as the designated player. 

Junior Alesia Ranches moved over from her 2021 position of second base to start all 55 games at shortstop for the Cyclones in 2022. Carli Spelhaug moved from first base into the outfield for 51 starts. 

Senior Kasey Simpson also received an increased role for 2022. In her junior season, Simpson started 26 games at second base but started all 55 games at the position in 2022.

Allen would stand out among the new faces and shuffled Iowa State lineup. Allen joined Iowa State after a travel team national championship with the Corona Angles in 2021. The true freshman finished her first season in Ames as the club’s offensive leader. 

Allen recorded a batting average of .325, the highest on the team. 

Another offensive leader stepped up to the challenge of replacing an all-time offensive producer. 

Catcher and designated player Mikayla Ramos flirted with another single-season record in the team’s 2022 campaign. In her junior season, Ramos knocked in 57 runs and made herself the single record holder for RBIs. 

In 2022, the senior came up five RBIs short. Her 52 RBIs led the clubhouse but fell short of another record-breaking season. Ramos’ 2022 effort ranks third all-time for the Iowa State single-season RBI record. 

Iowa State and its shaken-up lineup in 2022 missed the tournament, but 2023 is already in the mind of its head coach. 

"This team has a growth mindset," Pinkerton said. "If we can learn and grow from [this season], I think we have a shot to return to the NCAAs next year."

Iowa State will lose four players to graduation but only one starter. Eight offensive contributors will return, and three starting pitchers will have another year in the circle.

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