SOFTBALL: Iowa State gets 2 days to play in the sun

Michael Zogg

ISU softball players got an unexpected surprise on Wednesday.

They were able to practice outside.

After a long winter of practicing at the Lied Recreation Athletic Center and the Bergstrom Athletics complex, the team was able to return to the Southwest-Athletics Complex for both days of practice this week as they prepare for New Mexico State.

“Hopefully, we will go into this weekend with a little bit more confidence in what we are doing just because we have been outside twice,” head coach Stacy Gemeinhardt-Cesler said. “It’s definitely a great opportunity to play on the dirt before we go. We have now taken more ground balls outside then we have at any point this time in the last three years.”

The adjustment from turf in practice to dirt in games has been problematic for the Cyclones this season. The rocky transition helped cause 11 Iowa State errors along with 14 unearned runs in five games last weekend. The team hopes the extra practice outside will help.

“It’s a good thing to be on the dirt and to not practice on the turf where it has weird hops and where we have to make that hard adjustment,” said junior catcher Alex Johnson.

But as disappointing as the Mayfield Tournament was for the Cyclones last weekend, the team is trying to move on and just look at the positives.

“We know what we can do, especially with the way we played against Fresno State, twelfth in the nation,” Johnson said. “So we know how we can play and so we are just are going to fuel off of that.”

Iowa State will try to take that fuel into an interesting weekend match-up at New Mexico State. The Cyclones will play a double header against the Aggies on Saturday, then turn right around and play another double header against the Aggies on Sunday, totaling four games in all against the same team.

“We only have two pitchers… so that gets pretty difficult having to pitch to the same people,” said junior pitcher Charissa Carlin.

In order for the ISU pitchers to counter that, it will become even more important that they get ahead early in the count.

“I got ahead of the batters a lot more against Fresno [State],” Carlin said. “The set said I only got ahead of like 9 batters against Long Beach [State] and that really hurt me. I ended up throwing a lot more pitches and seeing a lot more batters.”

In addition to the pitchers, Gemeinhardt-Cesler feels the Cyclones will be challenged to stay focused. Seeing the same team over and over again can be hard to get excited for each time.

“I think that the focus and the intensity is really something that we are trying to find,” Gemeinhardt-Cesler said. “You know, we keep talking about that Fresno State game and you know, there was nothing magical about it, we just came out and we played how we can play… So I think for us, we are kind of hunting for playing that way all the time.”