The fall softball season is now officially over for Iowa State, so now the team is tasked with buckling down and putting in work to prepare for the spring season. The team was looking to find its new identity throughout fall ball, and they have done just that.
The fall scrimmages do not count toward the overall win-loss record, but the Cyclones came out with intensity and intent to win. The team had many impressive showings but ended on a slightly underwhelming note with two losses in the Big 4 Classic. The team now has the information they need to succeed in the upcoming regular season.
Excellent plate discipline
The most significant area that Iowa State demonstrated in most of their blow-out wins was the team’s dominance at the plate.
The Cyclones started the season strong with a 24-2 win over Iowa Central, putting up over 30 hits. They would go on to put up double-digit hits in all but two of their games. The only games where Iowa State didn’t put up at least double the hits of the opposing team were in its two losses.
Iowa State showed great ability to continue hitting well when they had the lead. It would have been interesting to see how well the team performed in clutch situations.
Iowa State’s deficit against Drake in the Big 4 Classic proved to be too much to come back from. The game against Iowa was very winnable, as the Hawkeyes only had one more hit than the Cyclones and only won by a single point.
The Cyclones did show incredible drive and motivation in their game against DMACC. The Cyclones and the Bears had switched leads a few times throughout the game. Trailing in the bottom of the ninth inning with two outs, senior Skyler Ramos hit a stand-up triple that gave the Cyclones the surge and intensity they needed to close out the game.
Iowa State displayed their ability to get hits and how patient and disciplined the players were at the plate. In a majority of the games, the Iowa State batters drew more walks than they did strikeouts.
The Cyclones struggled against the pitchers at the Big 4 Classic, striking out nearly 20 times throughout the three games. Iowa State will have to draw out the patience seen in the first five games and fix the issues in the season’s final games.
Great poise on the mound
The Iowa State bullpen shined throughout the fall season. Every pitcher had their game where they demonstrated excellent pitching skills.
All the pitchers are returning from last year, so Iowa State head coach Jamie Pinkerton expected that they would show improvement.
The bullpen did a great job closing games throughout the season. At the Big 4 Classic, sophomore Saya Swain closed the game against Drake to keep the Bulldogs from extending their lead by too much. Against UNI, senior Shannon Mortimer gave up no hits to close out the win, and junior Ellie Spelhaug closed strong against Iowa to give up no runs in six and two-thirds innings.
Swain and Spelhaug also did a great job against Iowa Central. Both pitchers recorded four strikeouts while facing a total of only 13 batters in four innings on the mound.
Junior Janessa Jasso did a great job pitching alongside Mortimer against Kirkwood. Both pitchers struck out four batters each as Iowa State cruised to another dominant victory.
Junior Karlie Charles showed great poise on the mound against DMACC, getting out of a tough inning and cleaning up most batters she faced. She recorded five strikeouts in her two and two-thirds innings pitched.
The Iowa State bullpen showed excellent efficiency throughout the fall season. There were games where some pitchers struggled, but the rest of the team backed them up and worked through some tough innings. If the bullpen can fix some minor mistakes, they will have great success in the regular season.
Errors need cleaning up
The main goal of the fall season is for the team to figure out what lineup will work best for the spring. The Cyclones took advantage of the scrimmages to test out many combinations of players to figure out which ones show great synergy on defense.
With the number of players switching around, it was expected that some mistakes would show up occasionally. However, at some points in the games, the occasional errors would be costly.
Iowa State averaged two and a half errors per game during the fall season. A lot of the errors were minor and did not have much effect on the game’s outcome. There were a few errors that did put the Cyclones in precarious spots.
These mistakes on defense should give the softball team good insight into what to work on before the spring season. At this point in the year, the team knows its starting lineup and will continue to work with players to shore up any weaknesses in the defense.
Now that the fall season is over, it is time for the Cyclones to get to work and prepare for the regular season.