No. 24 Texas Tech overpowers Cyclones

Zach Gourley

The No. 24 Texas Tech Red Raiders hit the Cyclone softball team off the field two days in a row this weekend.

Cyclone ace Rachel Zabriskie got the start in both games, but had to be pulled partway through the fourth inning each time.

“[Zabriskie] is not going to throw well every time, but I think it is in there because she’s a great pitcher,” said ISU coach Stacy Gemeinhardt-Cesler. “It just wasn’t her day.”

Zabriskie’s play often has a sizable affect on how her teammates perform.

“She’s the only senior on the team and she’s the leader of the team, and sometimes it seems like we play based on how she’s playing,” said Cyclone pitcher Lauren Kennewell. “We can’t do that because there are always going to be ups and downs as far as pitching goes.”

The Red Raiders (38-6, 3-5 Big 12) registered a 15-5 victory on 14 hits Saturday, four of which were home runs.

The Cyclones (17-17, 1-5) exhausted their four-player pitching rotation, throwing Zabriskie, Kennewell, Tori Torrescano and Bree Holliday at the Red Raiders, with minimal success.

The quartet of Cyclone pitchers gave up a batting average of .412 on the day.

“It was pretty frustrating because we scored five runs, and as a pitching staff, we should be able to hold them under five runs and that didn’t happen,” Kennewell said. “We just have to do a better job of pitching.”

The second game of the series Sunday was more of the same for the Cyclones as they lost 16-5.

With the score tied at 2-2 in the bottom of the second inning, Zabriskie walked two batters and hit another with a pitch to load the bases with two outs.

Red Raider first baseman Sandy James, who hit a three-run home Saturday, struck again with a grand slam to center to break the game open.

James was 4-4 at the plate Sunday with eight RBIs on the day.

“They had really good at-bats. A lot of times they would take that first strike, and then they would come back and wait for their pitch,” Kennewell said. “They would foul them off until they got the pitch they wanted and they hit it.”

Texas Tech’s 16 runs Sunday were the most in school history in a Big 12 conference game.

The Cyclones will try to snap their four-game losing streak 4 p.m. Tuesday in a road game against Drake.