SOFTBALL: Tigers take down Cyclones in windy double-header

David Merrill

Missouri’s bus started up in the fifth inning when the Cyclones trailed 9-1.

None of the players seemed to have heard the engine start, they started a rally of their own, cutting the deficit to 11-8 before eventually falling short 14-9 in the second game of the doubleheader.

After giving up a 4-1 lead in the first game en route to a 12-6 loss, Iowa State (25-25, 3-11 Big 12)  dug out of another huge hole to give the 10th ranked Tigers a scare.

“I thought they really did a good job of competing and fighting all day and scoring runs,” coach Stacy Gemeinhardt-Cesler said.  “We were within a couple outs of making it a short game and I’m just happy that they were able to keep on playing. We definitely had chances today.”

Both games featured jet stream-like wind conditions which helped the Cyclones and Tigers (38-9, 8-6 Big 12) combine for 41 runs on 49 hits with Missouri outscoring Iowa State by a combined score of 26-16.

The two teams also combined for 11 home runs.

Senior catcher Alex Johnson led the way for the Cyclones hitting a home run in both games as part of two 1-3 plate performances. Johnson also crossed the plate three times.

“It seems like the wind is worse now,” Johnson said after the game. “It honestly didn’t feel that windy on the field. I’m surprised my fly balls kept going, but [Missouri] came out hitting the ball and they hit the ball hard.”

Johnson came into the game with a team leading 30 RBIs and added to that total with her two home runs.

Game one of the doubleheader marked the the third straight game in which Iowa State has held at least a one run lead and ended up with a loss.

The Cyclones gave up a five run lead and one-run lead in their previous series against Baylor.

“I think we need to do a better job of fighting through the whole game, never sitting back on our toes, whether we have a lead or not. There are seven innings in a game and sometimes it goes longer than that. You have to be in attack mode the whole time.” said senior catcher Alex Johnson.

Missouri jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning before Iowa State put together two-run innings in the bottom of the second and third.

Iowa State’s first offensive surge came on the strength of singles by senior third basemen Courtney Wray, Heidi Kidwell and then a 2-RBI single by Carrie Monroe.

Sophomore outfielder Heidi Kidwell was on the Tigers radar as she came in batting .345 with 20 RBIs and 57 hits while crossing the plate 28 times.

They were able to keep Kidwell in check as she went a combined 1-5 .

The Tigers battled back and tied the game at 4-4 heading into the fifth inning and took the lead in their half of the sixth before the Cyclones retook the lead in their half of the sixth.

Iowa State was able to sit down the first batter of the inning in the top of the 7th before Missouri started its onslaught of a seven-run inning.

The dagger shot came on a grand slam home run by Shea Taylor that made the score 12-6 and the Cyclones weren’t able to recover.

The 20 minute break between games was not enough time for the Tigers’ bats to slow down as they jumped right back up to a 5-0 lead after the first inning and increased their lead to 9-1 heading into the bottom of the fifth inning.

The Cyclones were two outs away from an early exit due to the run rule when they started their improbably rally, scoring two runs in the bottom of the fifth to stay alive and then exploding for six runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. This cut the deficit to three runs heading into the top half of the seventh and gave them hope for a come from behind victory.

“Fighting through seven innings and never backing down and not playing on our toes,” Johnson said. “They probably didn’t expect it. They probably thought they were going to dominate us, but we definitely gave them a run for their money and showed we can fight back.”

Both teams had trouble in the field in the second game as Missouri committed four errors and the Cyclones committed two.

Missouri head coach Ehren Earleywine felt his team needs to make improvements on the defensive end for the next game and in the future.

“The bright spot of the day was, we had really good at bats,” Earleywine said. “The obvious part is that defensively we stunk up the place and gave them four, five, six outs in several innings and didn’t pitch exceptionally well either. We’re fortunate to come out with two wins today because what we did was really quite an embarrassment.”