California welcomes many ISU softball players home


Photo: Rebekka Brown/Iowa State Daily

Texas A&M pitcher Mel Dumezich pitches to Iowa State’s Lexi Slater during the first game of Friday’s double header at the Southwest Athletic Complex. Slater went on to bring the Cyclone’s only homerun of the game in the bottom of the third inning.

Isaac Hunt

The ISU softball team has six players from California, which is the state it is traveling to this weekend to play five teams at the Fresno State Classic.

Those five teams include two top-10 teams and another top-25 team, but the Cyclones (9-6) may have some added advantages being close to home.

“I think [there is more motivation] because all of the girls in the northern area we all grew up playing together,” said Liana Henry of Livermore, Calif. “All the girls that went local, it just gets more competitive when you know each other.”

Familiar faces on the field won’t be the only ones Iowa State will see. Along with old teammates and competitors, many families will be present.

“I’m excited to see my family, and I know that a lot of other families are coming too,” said Lexi Slater of Ramona, Calif. “[I] definitely want to play up to their expectations. It’s very motivating.”

Iowa State may need to use the extra motivation against Fresno State (13-10), San Diego State (10-9) and the Pac-12 teams it is playing that include No. 23 Oregon State (17-4), No. 8 Oregon (19-3) and No. 6 California (15-2).

“It’s going to be hard because I’m from that area,” Henry said. “I know how competitive [softball] is out there.”

Another tough thing for the Cyclones this week will be getting only one chance against each team compared to usually playing teams multiple times in a weekend.

“It’s hard because when they are so good and the outcomes aren’t what you want it makes you want to go back and play them better,” Slater said. “When they perform at a high level, it makes you perform at a higher level.”

ISU coach Stacy Gemeinhardt-Cesler believes the competitive softball will help the players prepare for Big 12 games. Those competitive benefits are just adding to the overall team morale that gets a boost from going west.

“We always try to go play in places where we have players from,” Gemeinhardt-Cesler said. “It’s a great opportunity for people to go back who are from there. I think they enjoy it and their families and friends enjoy it so it should be fun.”

Even though they are playing multiple nationally ranked teams, the confidence of the ISU players is still going strong.

“Win: That’s our mindset,” Slater said. “We know we can and we don’t have any doubts that we can. We know that there are games that we should have won, and we don’t want that to happen.”