ISU softball seeks to continue ‘hot start’ in Bronco Classic


Miranda Cantrell/Iowa State Daily

Senior Sara Rice speaks with a coach while on first base during the Cyclones game against South Dakota State at the Bergstrom Football Complex on Feb. 9. The Cyclones beat the Jackrabbits 4-1.

Ben Paulus

The ISU softball team, off to its best start since 2009, heads into the weekend with some momentum and aims to build upon its 8-1 record.

The Cyclones have had success in every aspect of the game to start their season and ISU coach Stacy Gemeinhardt-Cesler is quick to point out that there are a combination of factors that are leading to the Cyclones’ hot start.

“I think we have fantastic leadership on this team,” Gemeinhardt-Cesler said. “The middle infielders, Sara Davison and Lexi Slater, have great command over what the infield is doing, as well as Brittany Gomez in the outfield.”

The leaders for the Cyclones have helped develop their freshmen into key contributors. Freshmen Katie Johnson and Rachel Hartman have already made their presence on the diamond felt.

“Katie has been throwing really well for us lately,” Gemeinhardt-Cesler said. “Hartman at catcher really doesn’t play like a freshman at all, so it’s just a good combination of balance.”

Whether the ISU offense happens to struggle manufacturing runs or their pitchers allow more runs than usual, Iowa State has continued to find new ways to win ball games.

“It definitely goes back and forth,” said shortstop Lexi Slater. “When our pitcher does give up a run, which hasn’t been often, we try to bounce back hard to have her back and win the momentum.”

The Cyclones have scored 56 runs this season, limiting opponents to only 26 runs. Iowa State as a team hit for a combined .380 batting average through its first nine games.

“I think it’s very important for us to pick each other up in certain situations,” Gemeinhardt-Cesler said. “There are going to be games when our pitching needs to win games without their best stuff, and the easiest way to do that is with a great offense.”

The players themselves attribute the hot start offensively to their coaches and the hard work they put in during practice.

“Obviously great coaching contributes to our team batting average,” said third baseman Sara Rice. “We’ve put a ton of work in this year and personally, I feel much more comfortable in the batter’s box than before.”

Iowa State added assistant coach Lindsey Ubrun in September 2013 to take over as the hitting coach. Gemeinhardt-Cesler feels Ubrun has brought a new dimension to the Cyclones’ offensive philosophy.

“Coach Ubrun has done a great job focusing on some things in the off-season that has helped everyone,” Gemeinhardt-Cesler said. “I think the things she’s doing play a big part to our success.”

Iowa State will be on the road again this weekend and is scheduled to play five games in three days at the Marriott Bronco Classic in Santa Clara, Calif.