Cyclone softball hosts regular season finale


Shortstop Alesia Ranches waits in the on-deck circle during Iowa State’s matchup with in-state rival Iowa on April 26.

Anthony Hanson

Iowa State softball will host Kansas in its final three-game series of the regular season starting Friday, with a chance to end the regular season above .500 and stronger in Big 12 seeding.

Iowa State (25-25) can finish as low as seventh and as high as fourth in the regular-season conference race. The final weekend of Big 12 play will decide seeding and matchups for the single-elimination Big 12 Tournament held in Oklahoma City on May 12.

In the Cyclones’ case, their final weekend is a home series against the last-place Kansas Jayhawks. Kansas is 15-31 overall and 2-13 in Big 12 games this season.

The Cyclones are one game behind both Texas Tech and Baylor in the standings entering the final weekend of the regular season.  

Texas Tech has finished its Big 12 schedule, and Baylor will enter a three-game series with the third-place Texas Longhorns on Friday.

With two wins against Kansas, Iowa State will pass the Red Raiders in the standings. And with two more wins than Baylor during the weekend, the Cyclones will earn the fourth seed in the upcoming conference tournament.

“The NCAAs are still in play,” Iowa State head coach Jamie Pinkerton said.

Iowa State ranks No. 58 in the latest national ratings power index after winning its first conference series against Baylor.

“We still got some work to do, but that helped us get back on track,” Pinkerton said. “Everything’s still in front of us.”

Iowa State won its final two games against Baylor in Waco, Texas, each by five runs. Then, the Cyclones extended the win streak to three after a mid-week win against Drake.

Iowa State has won four of its last five games since returning from a road trip against No. 1 Oklahoma, where they saw their then-losing streak extended to five games.

In the NCAA tournament’s field of 64 teams, 32 receive automatic bids and the next 32 strongest teams in terms of RPI fill out the rest of the field.

Iowa State softball has not reached the NCAA tournament in two consecutive years since the 1988 and 1989 seasons. The goal for Iowa State, Pinkerton said, is to return to the tournament.

Kansas travels to Ames after losing three games to No. 1 Oklahoma. Kansas pitcher Kasey Hamilton held the Oklahoma lineup scoreless through the three innings in the final game of the series, but the Sooners went on to win 9-1 in seven innings.

Hamilton leads Kansas in innings pitched and strikeouts. The sophomore had 21 starts and 30 appearances and recorded seven of the team’s 15 pitching wins.  

Offensively, the Jayhawks are led by another sophomore, Lyric Moore. Moore is a catcher and utility player for Kansas and has a .385 batting average throughout the 2022 season.

Infielder Ashlyn Anderson is a long-ball threat in the heart of the Kansas order. The junior has 10 home runs this season and a team-high slugging percentage of .632.

Iowa State catcher and designated player Mikayla Ramos is five RBIs away from setting another single-season RBI record for Iowa State softball. Ramos earned 57 RBIs in the 2021 season, enough to make her the single-season program record holder.

Ramos has 52 RBIs on the year with three games to play in the regular season.

Iowa State and Kansas will face off first at 4 p.m. Friday at the Cyclone Sports Complex. Then, the series will conclude with a matchup at 1 p.m. Saturday and noon Sunday.