Cyclones to play in Big Four tournament

Zach Gourley

The ISU softball team will head to Des Moines this weekend to take part in the Iowa Big Four tournament with Northern Iowa, Drake and Iowa on Saturday and Sunday.

The Cyclones are just one game into their eight-game fall schedule after an 8-2 victory over DMACC on Sept. 11.

ISU coach Stacy Gemeinhardt-Cesler said winning may not be the team’s sole focus this weekend as she tries to assess where her young team stands.

“I can’t say we’re going in just to win, I mean you always hope that’s the outcome, but I think more important is figuring out exactly where we’re at,” Gemeinhardt-Cesler said. “It’s a good test to get a pulse for what we need to work on and just how we’re going to fare in the spring.”

This weekend will be a good early test for the Cyclones as they had their hands full with in-state rivals last year, splitting a pair of games with Northern Iowa and losing a 4-3 decision to the Hawkeyes last year.

“We’re getting a higher level of competition, a little more similar to what we’re going to see during the season, and there’s always those in-state rivalries, so you want to play well,” said pitcher Tori Torrenscano. “I think it’s especially good for the freshmen to see the kind of competition we’re going to play during this season so they have something to work toward.”

The Panthers, who are coming off a 32-25 campaign last spring, will be up first for the Cyclones on Saturday. They return their pitching ace, sophomore Jamie Fisher, who registered a 20-11 record last season with a 2.09 ERA and 211 strikeouts.

“We need to have all three things for sure: pitching, hitting and defense because we’re playing three really good teams,” said ISU pitcher Lauren Kennewell. “We need all of those things to show up and we need everybody to contribute.”

Iowa will be the Cyclones’ second opponent Saturday. The Hawkeyes lost their top three hitters in terms of batting average from last year but return their top power hitter, senior catcher Liz Watkins.

Watkins had a .294 batting average last year with nine home runs and 36 RBIs.

The Cyclones will play Northern Iowa at noon Saturday, followed by their matchup with Iowa at 2 p.m. in Des Moines.