SOFTBALL: Iowa State finally outside after a long winter

Michael Zogg

The Cyclones escape the cold, blustery Iowa winter to take advantage of the Florida sun where the low for the weekend (50 degrees) is almost twice as warm as the high in Ames (29 degrees) this weekend.

“We are all looking forward to it,” said junior outfielder Kelsey Kidwell. “It’s almost like a vacation for us even though we will be playing the whole time.”

Iowa State (4-0) is traveling to Florida for the Jacksonville Tournament on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, where it will face Presbyterian (0-0) and Jacksonville (1-5).

The Cyclones are not too concerned with who they will be playing at the tournament, however.

“I just show up when our coaches tell us to, where our coaches tell us to and the team that we are facing on the field is the team that I’m going to get ready to play,” said junior first baseman Sydni Jones. “I prepare the same way no matter who we are playing.”

The tournament was originally also going to include Northern Colorado, who dropped out, causing the Cyclones to play Presbyterian and Jacksonville three times a piece.

“It’s a little bit uncommon, but it is what it is,” said head coach Stacy Gemeinhardt-Cesler.

Playing the same team three times presents a unique set of challenges for Iowa State.

“It will be different because really we are used to seeing multiple opponents in tournaments,” Jones said.

“So seeing the same team three times, it’s tough to beat the same team three times so it will be a challenge, but a challenge that we can definitely handle.”

Although the Cyclones feel they are up to the challenge, they do acknowledge that continually playing against the same team is difficult.

“In softball itself anyone can beat any team at any given time, so to see the same team three time, and have them see you three times, it’s kind of hard to beat them every time,” Jones said.

Although this weekend is not necessarily the best situation for a weekend tournament that the Cyclones have seen, they are determined to look at the positives.

“What’s nice is we are going to play some softball against somebody else besides ourselves and you know, we are going to play outside, and we are going to play on the dirt and we are going to get a lot of experience. That’s where we are at and that’s what we need,” Gemeinhardt-Cesler said.

The Jacksonville Tournament will be the first that the team has played outside since the fall season, though with the wave of warm weather in Ames over the past week, the team was able to find its way outside for some drills this week in practice.

“The ball will be a little bit slower and we have to play the hop because they are not going to be true bounces, you know, it could hit a rock, it could hit a clump of dirt so we’ve got to be ready for that,” Jones said.

“But you know, we have played softball since six, seven years old and we played on dirt our whole lives so I think we will be just fine.”

Despite their experience on the dirt, Jones did notice that last year when they made the jump to dirt, they weren’t quite as sharp fielding as they normally are right away.

“I think there are a few kinks we had to get used to, the ball taking bad hops, and it took us a game or two, but it was an easy adjustment for all of us,” Jones said.