Takeaways: Another day, another walk-off for Sami Williams and the Cyclones

Iowa State junior Sami Williams swings at a pitch against UNI on Tuesday, April 16. The Cyclones won, 2-0.

John Miller

The Iowa State Cyclones (31-22, 7-11 Big 12) defeated the Kansas Jayhawks (15-35, 3-15 Big 12) in the second (1-0) and third games (4-2) of the series to complete the sweep of the Jayhawks.

In the second game of the doubleheader, Iowa State’s Sami Williams hit her second walk-off home run of the series to secure a win in the final game at home this season.

The contest was the Cyclones’ third game of out their last four that has gone to extra innings.

“You’re always lucky to be the home team in extra innings and get that opportunity instead of being on the other side of that,” said coach Jamie Pinkerton.

With the first win of the day, the Cyclones locked up fifth place in the Big 12.

Deja vu

When Sami Williams came to the plate in the bottom of the eighth, Cyclone fans held their breath with the memories of yesterday in their heads.

Williams delivered on the 3-2 count, mashing a no-doubt home run over the fence to win the game.

As Williams crossed the plate, she was greeted by energetic teammates.

“They were yelling, I think I even got a couple of I love yous,” Williams said.

The hit was her only one of the day, but it proved to be the only one she needed to be the hero for consecutive days.

“I [have] full confidence in all of our young women but I think it is no secret that when the game is on the line that’s who I want at the plate,” Pinkerton said.

Williams has had a stellar year at the dish as she is Iowa State’s statistical leader in every major hitting category.

Her 14 home runs and 68 hits are tied for third in the Big 12.

“I can’t really describe it (the feeling of hitting a walk-off); I wish we could’ve got it done earlier, but [I’m] glad we got it done in the end,” Williams said.

Pitching and defense

The senior duo of Savannah Sanders and Emma Hylen pitched well for the Cyclones on the day, allowing a total of three runs.

In game one, Sanders threw seven shutout innings.

The shutout was the sixth of her career and third of the season.

After Hylen pitched seven innings in the second game, Sanders entered, pitching a 1-2-3 inning immediately.

“When I went in, I was just thinking get it back to Sami and everything will be fine,” Sanders said.

Sanders only threw 61 pitches in the shutout, allowing three hits on no walks and one strikeout.

The wins were her fifth and sixth of the season, and third of the weekend after she relieved Hylen yesterday.

“Three wins is hard to come by in one Big 12 season but for that to come in one weekend, especially on Senior Day and Diabetes Awareness Weekend, that was special,” Sanders said.

The defense performed well for Iowa State on the day, not making an error.

In the third inning of the second game, Taylor Nearad and Williams made a great relay home to gun out Kansas’ Brittany Jackson to save a run.

There was one key play in the seventh inning where Logan Schaben tried to throw to second to get the lead runner on a sacrifice bunt but was just late on the throw, leaving runners on first and second with no outs.

Nevertheless, Hylen followed that up with a clutch strikeout of Emily Bermel and worked out of the jam to keep the score tied.

“Tip of the cap to Kansas, they played well all weekend and stayed in the game and put pressure on us, but we pitched really well and played good defense,” Pinkerton said.

Seniors play final game at home

Eight seniors played their final game at the Cyclone Sports Complex on Saturday: center fielder Nearad, catcher Kaylee Bosworth, first baseman Sally Woolpert, right fielder Sydney Stites, second baseman Jackie Chairez, left fielder Kirsten Caudle, and pitchers Sanders and Hylen.

After the second game, Iowa State celebrated the careers, handing out flowers and taking photos.

 “It is tough seeing them go,” Williams said. “They’re definitely a class that has worked hard and really bought in, which is huge for the freshman to see that they’re working hard.”

All eight seniors played a role in the games on the day, with six of them hitting in the lineup and two of them in the circle.

Although the first game was dominated by Sanders in the circle, Bosworth and Nearad both hit doubles to set up scoring situations.

In the second game, Stites, Woolpert, and Caudle had hits to help the team while Chairez added a run.

“I’m happy for them because what they went through in the past, they deserve another shot in the postseason,” Pinkerton said.

The Cyclones RPI ranking is currently at 56th as of April 28.

According to Sanders, that is a long way from the 150th RPI ranking that the Cyclones came in with four years ago.

“This team is different because we know how to finish and play together,” Sanders said. “We don’t let first inning or second inning mistakes affect us the rest of the game.”