ISU softball struggles with offensive inconsistency in loss to Drake


Jen Hao Wong/Iowa State Daily

Freshman right-handed pitcher Katie Johnson throws the ball during Iowa State’s doubleheader against Northern Illinois on March 23 at Cyclone Sports Complex.

Ben Paulus

DES MOINES — Entering April 9’s contest against Drake, the ISU softball team sat just one game above .500 on the season.

The Cyclones (18-17, 1-5 Big 12) made it apparent from the top of the first inning that they had every intention to prevent themselves from falling to the .500 mark but fell short in a rally against the Bulldogs, losing 10-9.

Sophomore center fielder Brittany Gomez scored the game’s first run before the next batter had a chance to bring her in. After advancing to second on an error by the catcher, Gomez stole third and took home when the catcher’s throw sailed into the outfield.

Gomez’s aggressive base running set the tone for the Cyclones. A solo homerun by junior shortstop Lexi Slater put Iowa State up 2-0.

“Gomez does such a good job with her aggressiveness on the base paths,” said ISU coach Stacy Gemeinhart-Cesler. “She’s huge, she’s really the table setter for our offense.”

Freshman ace Katie Johnson started her 31st game on the mound for Iowa State. Although at times Johnson has been virtually unhittable, she has struggled with her control as of late, averaging one walk for every two innings.

After hitting the leadoff batter in the bottom of the first, Johnson allowed a single and walk to load the bases.

Gemeinhardt-Cesler made the move to relieve Johnson by bringing in junior Paris Imholz to try and limit the damage.

“I just wasn’t able to execute [in the first inning],” Johnson said. “We came out and got those five runs, and we just got back on our heels a little bit.”

Imholz was able to escape the first-inning jam after allowing only two of Johnson’s runs to score, keeping the Cyclones ahead of the Bulldogs 5-2.

However, Iowa State’s lead was short-lived.

Drake was able to tack on three more runs off Imholz in the bottom of the second inning before the Cyclones made the decision to go back to Johnson on the mound.

After a bases-loaded blooper in the bottom of the fourth, the Cyclones trailed the Bulldogs 6-5.

Iowa State found itself on the wrong side of the box score after Drake outfielder Hayley Nybo brought home three on a bases-loaded double before scoring herself on an error to make it a 10-5 ballgame.

Heading into the top of the seventh inning, the Cyclones were able to piece a rally together. Iowa State scored three runs to make it 10-8 before first baseman Jorden Spendlove came up to the plate with one out and runners on second and third.

Spendlove singled up the middle bringing Rachel Hartman home easily, but second baseman Sara Davison, who was the tying run, was thrown out at the plate on the play.

Trailing 10-9, Iowa State third baseman Sara Rice fouled out to end the game with the tying run on second base.

After the game, Gemeinhardt-Cesler said she wouldn’t have changed her decision to send Davison home for the tie.

“We tend to be aggressive in that situation,” Gemeinhart-Cesler said. “We’ll usually take that chance on the base paths, that’s just how our offense runs.”

After falling to .500 on the season, Iowa State will look to turn it around in conference play this weekend when they take on Texas (23-16, 3-1 Big 12) in a three-game series. The series opener between the Cyclones and the Longhorns starts at 4 p.m. April 11.