A look back at the 2011 softball season


Photo: Jake Lovett/Iowa State Daily

ISU pitcher Lauren Kennewell throws a pitch during game two of Iowa State’s doubleheader with Minnesota. Kennewell struggled and only lasted 1 2/3 innings in the Cyclones’ 11-3 loss to Minnesota.

Darrin Cline

The 2011 season marked the end of one of the greatest softball careers in ISU history. The growing legacy of Rachel Zabriskie lit up a season of broken records and ever-apparent potential.

“She allowed me to be better,” said catcher Amandine Habben. “Her confidence, her swagger and her approach to the game allowed me to do what I do. It was really nice to be able to catch for her.”

Zabriskie continued her crusade through the Iowa State and Big 12 record books. Her 14-18 record belies an eye-popping stat that has become the trademark of her skills.

Following four dominating seasons at Iowa State, Zabriskie now ranks 10th in the Big 12 all-time standings, with 815 strikeouts. Her appearances in 38 of her team’s 49 games last season catapulted her to seventh in appearances in conference history.

While the season may have ended with a 21-28 record and only three victories in conference play, the team found building blocks during it that can be used going forward.

“It’s pretty cool to see how much we progressed. You don’t want to admit it but we are a pretty young team,” Habben said. “We had 11 freshmen — and a lot them playing a big role on our team. We played our best competition at the end of the season and we hung right with them so that’s good to see.” 

The strength of the Big 12 showed throughout the spring. Seemingly every time the Cyclones took to the field, they were playing a ranked opponent. Seven of the ten conference programs finished the year ranked in the top 25, with Baylor, Missouri, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State qualifying for the College World Series.

“People always talk about the Pac 10 and how the SEC is up-and-coming. People thought the Big 12 was falling off the radar and this year it showed that we are a tough conference,” said Cyclone pitcher Lauren Kennewell.

The power hitters often stole the headlines for the squad this season, and with good reason. The unofficial longball contest between first basewoman Erica Miller and designated hitter/outfielder Tori Torrescano propelled both to the top of the stat books.

“I don’t think people realize that we broke or tied six offensive records and we only played 49 games,” Habben said. “We had Tori and Erica battling for home runs. Give us 7 more games [and] I know they would have broke more records easily.” 

Both California crushers ended the 2011 campaign with 11 dingers apiece, Miller led the team in RBI’s with 40. While Miller and Torrescano topped the power categories, the quick feet of Heidi Kidwell contributed just as much to their team’s offensive output.

Kidwell and Torrescano both tallied 51 runs, with Kidwell leading the team with 34 runs. Kidwell stole 15 bases last season — a higher total than that of all her teammates combined

Zabriskie being the lone senior on the team, younger players were thrown into the fire and asked to perform. Though this trial by fire may have caused a few reverses this season, the team is hoping the experience will pay off for future seasons.

“I’m just excited for next year. We have a lot of players coming in, and our now-sophomores will still be young but they know what the Big 12 is all about,” Kennewell said.

Despite the hardships and obstacles of a losing season, the optimism of the players gleamed until the final inning. An all-time Iowa State great may be gone, but the remaining Cyclones are set to blaze their own paths to greatness.