SOFTBALL: Cyclones to hunt Tigers

SOFTBALL: Cyclones to hunt Tigers

Jordan Wickstrom —

At the start of Big 12 play, Iowa State was off to one of its best starts at 20-12.

Since then, things have not been as promising with the Cyclones dropping 11 of their last 16.

Now at 3-9 in the conference, the Cyclones are staying positive as they fight to keep hope for a higher seed alive.

“If you look at the wins and losses and you look at how we lose, we’re right there with everybody,” said senior catcher Alex Johnson.

“No matter if people are blaming [the losses] on errors, home runs, not hitting the ball, whatever people think we’re losing by — it doesn’t matter. We’re competing with the other teams and we just know we can play with anybody.”

Looking past its recent struggles, the general attitude among the team is calmer than most would assume. Coach Stacy Gemeinhardt-Cesler does not want the team to focus on the struggles but instead keep an open mind and not panic.

“It doesn’t do any good to panic,” Gemeinhardt-Cesler said. “If you worry about it and look back at what could’ve happened, it doesn’t matter now. What matters is that we play tomorrow and the best we can do is go out there and perform at our highest level.”

With only six games left in the regular season and the Cyclones virtually eliminated from a possible top four seed, the Cyclones will play host to a double-header against Big 12-rival Missouri on Wednesday.

Missouri enters Wednesday’s games in fifth place and only a half game out of the fourth seed, giving the Cyclones an ideal opportunity to play spoiler to the Tigers’ hopes.

“When you don’t have anything to lose, you have everything to gain,” said junior pitcher Rachel Zabriskie. “The Big 12 has once again proved that it’s really good and it’s going to be to tough beating some of them. But when you’re at the bottom — like we are — there’s nothing you can do to make it worse so you might as well just try as hard as you can to make it better.”

If the Cyclones want to put a dent in Missouri’s hopes for a top-four finish, they will need to keep the Tigers off the bases.

The Tigers sit at fourth in on-base percentage (.396) and fourth in hitting (.297), meaning the Cyclones will have their hands full against Missouri.

Missouri also poses a unique challenge with its ability to steal bases. With 86 stolen bases, the Tigers are second to Baylor in the Big 12.

Despite the numbers Missouri put together, the Cyclones have confidence they will be able to prevent the Tigers from getting too comfortable on the base path.

“Obviously they can’t steal bases if we stop them from getting on,” Johnson said.

“But other than that, the people in the dugout will have to let me know when their going. That helps me out because I can hear it. But every team in the Big 12 is fast so it’s just preparing for it and other than working hard in practice there’s really not much you can do about it because people are going to run in this conference and people are going to be fast in this conference.”

The most likely stealing threat for the Tigers will be junior outfielder Rhea Taylor.

Her 29 stolen bases rank first in the Big 12.

In order to move up a few spots in the standings, the Cyclones will not only need to win but will need a little luck as well.

They are 2.5 games behind Nebraska and Baylor in the Big 12.

But with only six games left and nothing to lose, the Cyclones’ postseason seemingly begins Wednesday against Missouri.