Team, coach eager to prove selves in Charleston Cougar Classic


Photo: Tim Reuter/Iowa State Daily

Heidi Kidwell slides into second base, avoiding a Valparaiso opponent during the softball game Feb. 13 at the Bergstrom Indoor Training Facility.

Zach Gourley

ISU softball coach Stacy Gemeinhardt-Cesler and her team are eager for an opportunity to bounce back this weekend at the College of Charleston Cougar Classic in Charleston, S.C.

“It’s a great opportunity for us to get back to where we were playing the first weekend of the season,” Gemeinhardt-Cesler said.

The Cyclones start off the busy weekend with two games Friday morning against Marist and Liberty, neither of which have played a game yet this season. The team will also face Notre Dame, Drexel and the host team, the Charleston Cougars.

Last weekend, the Cyclones played a four-game stretch in Texas, during which they struggled statistically, going 1-3 against Texas State and Purdue. The Cyclones hit just .210, while ace pitcher Rachel Zabriskie started two games, in which she allowed an ERA of 6.08.

“Honestly, I think that we made some really bad decisions offensively,” Gemeinhardt-Cesler said. “I think we went in and second-guessed ourselves quite a bit.”

Junior Heidi Kidwell, the team’s lead-off hitter, started off the season hitting more than .500 but struggled to get anything going offensively in Texas, going just 1-11 at the plate.

“I think they had a scouting report on me because they were pitching me a lot on the inside, and that’s the one area where I struggle,” Kidwell said.

Freshman Sara Rice is one of the few Cyclones who had success on the disappointing road trip. After registering just one hit in the first six games of the season, Rice led the Cyclones in batting average in Texas, hitting .333.

“The first weekend I just had a lot of nerves,” Rice said. “Everyone helped me and kind of picked me up last weekend. I just wanted to pick the team up when they were struggling.”

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish look like they might be the team to beat in Charleston this weekend. The Fighting Irish are off to a 5-0 start this season, with pitcher Laura Winter picking up two of those wins while securing an ERA of just 0.84 on the season.

After facing Marist and Liberty on Friday morning, the Cyclones will have more than 24 hours to prepare for Saturday evening match-ups with Drexel and Notre Dame. The Cougar Classic will come to an end for the Cyclones after facing the Charleston Cougars at 1 p.m. Sunday.