SPRING SPORTS: High hopes, promising future for Cyclone softball team

Travis Cammon

The ISU softball team began its 2012 season with optimism and high hopes to erase the tough losses the team endured to end its previous season. 

The Cyclones finished last season with a 21-28 record, including a 3-15 record in Big 12 play, ending the year in a seven-game losing streak.

But the season hasn’t panned out quite how coach Stacy Gemeinhardt-Cesler had envisioned it. The Cyclones are 5-11 on the season so far, having been outscored by their opponents by a total of 130-50 — including a 26-5 beatdown from rival Iowa.

“Nobody likes to lose obviously,” Gemeinhardt-Cesler said. “But I think they do a good job of coming back each time and trying to do better.”

This year, Iowa State returned its entire outfield along with the vast majority of its positions while adding newcomers Lexi Slater, Jorden Smith and Miranda Kemp, all of whom are poised to make immediate contributions.

“I think [the newcomers] are doing pretty well,” Gemeinhardt-Cesler said. “Jorden Smith has played in the outfield, which is a new position for her, but she’s getting better and better defensively each day.”

Center field is played by Jennifer Drahozal, while left field is manned by Smith. Anna Cole plays right field to round out the Cyclones’ outfield.

While familiar faces Erica Miller and Dalyn Varela are the starting first and second basemen, Sara Davison, Slater and Kayla Hardiman have started at second base, shortstop and catcher, respectively, for the Cyclones for most of the season.

Iowa State’s pitching staff has struggled as well this year with the departure of Rachel Zabriskie, who saw a vast majority of the pitching duties last season. Her absence this year has created an increased workload for rest of the Cyclone pitchers.

“We’re definitely giving up a lot more runs than what we want,” Gemeinhardt-Cesler said. “But it is what it is and we have to keep going out and get better.”

A bright spot shines for the team in the midst of its tumultuous season. Pitcher Tori Torrescano has picked up her workload from last season and already has four of Iowa State’s five wins this season.

“There’s no question about [Torrescano’s] dedication,” Gemeinhardt-Cesler said. “I think that she wants it very badly and works very hard for it.”

In addition to her pitching ability, Torrescano also is contributing on offense as well. Last season, she was tied for the team lead in home runs with 11 and this year she ranks second in the Big 12 in slugging percentage at .853.

“She’s a tremendous hitter,” Gemeinhardt-Cesler said of Torrescano. “She’s always been a great hitter for us and I think she has just gotten better and better.”

Despite their bad start, the Cyclones have a lot of season left and will begin to try to turn their young season around and attempt to pick up more victories.

With Torrescano leading the way, Smith becoming more accustomed to playing a new position and the other new faces establishing their roles on the team, the future looks bright for the Cyclone softball team for the 2011-12 season.

“Honestly, [coming into the season], I didn’t think we would struggle this badly,” Gemeinhardt-Cesler said. “We’ve had a hard time staying consistent, but I think we are definitely talented enough; it’s just a matter of going out and playing well.”