SOFTBALL: Sooners edge out Cyclones in double header

Freshman Erica Miller sets to the hit during the game against Oklahoma on Saturday. Iowa State lost both games to Oklahoma by scores of 2-0 and 3-2. Photo: Tim Reuter/Iowa State Daily

Tim Reuter

Freshman Erica Miller sets to the hit during the game against Oklahoma on Saturday. Iowa State lost both games to Oklahoma by scores of 2-0 and 3-2. Photo: Tim Reuter/Iowa State Daily

Michael Zogg —

Iowa State’s streak of 20-straight games without losing back-to-back contests was broken by No. 13 Oklahoma.

The Sooners (29–8, 3–1) overpowered the Cyclones (22–15, 1–3) in a double header, outscoring them 2–0 and 3–2 on Saturday at the Southwest Athletic Complex in Ames.

Iowa State struggled offensively despite its offensive prowess over the previous 10 games.

“We didn’t make the adjustments,” said senior outfielder Kelsey Kidwell. “A lot of people, including myself, were striking out on the same pitches.”

The Sooners racked up 24 strike outs between their two pitchers over the course of the double header. Most of those strikeouts were a result of a missed swing.

“We were swinging the bats and being aggressive,” said junior pitcher Rachel Zabriskie. “I mean, they have good pitchers and they were pitching drop balls and we were just missing them.”

Coaches and players alike seemed to be proud of the team’s effort on Saturday, but felt they could have executed a little bit better and gotten a win.

“We didn’t do a very good job of executing,” said coach Stacy Gemeinhardt-Cesler. “We had a couple bunt situations that we didn’t get down. When you are playing such a good team there is just not a lot of room for error.”

The Cyclones were held down offensively for the first 13 innings of the double header, but in the final inning of the day, the Cyclones showed life. Down 3–0, freshman Erica Miller and sophomore Dalyn Varela began the inning with back-to-back hits.

Two batters later, the Cyclones were down 3–1 with a runner on first and the top of their order up. Leadoff batter freshman outfielder Heidi Kidwell hit an infield single that plated Varela, bringing the score to 3-2. Before the next pitch was thrown, however, the game was over. Heidi Kidwell was called out for stepping off the bag while the ball was in the pitcher’s circle.

“He was looking to end the game and that’s not what we wanted, especially after Heidi beat that ball out and scored that second run,” Kelsey Kidwell said. “All we needed was an opportunity to score one more, so that was pretty disappointing.”

The end of the game was less than satisfactory for the Cyclones and it was just the latest in the team’s list of close losses to ranked teams this season.

“It’s really frustrating,” Kelsey Kidwell said. “We are so close in every one of the games that we are losing, especially against these really good teams. We just need those little breaks to help lift us to a win.”

Although Iowa State came up just a little bit short, defensively, it was as good as any team that has played Oklahoma all season long.

The Sooners are one of the most powerful teams in the country with 50 home runs already this season, and they use that power to average 6.29 runs per game.

“You have to keep the ball down,” Gemeinhardt-Cesler said of pitching to Oklahoma. “You could tell on those pitches that went out of the park, those were higher pitches. You have to constantly keep the ball down to them and keep them off balance which I thought both pitchers did quite well.”

Even though the ISU pitching staff did keep Oklahoma off-balance for most of the day, the Sooners still belted three home runs. Two of the Sooners’ home runs came from All-American second baseman Amber Flores, whose first home run of the day gave her the Oklahoma school record for the most career home runs with 49.

“The first one I made a mistake to her and she hit it out, and she hit it far,” said Zabriskie, who served up both of Flores’ home runs. “But she is a great hitter. You can’t make a mistake to her, you can barley make a good pitch to her and not have her hit it out. She is a just great hitter and I really respect that.”