SOFTBALL: Cyclones continue fast start with 5-win weekend

Sophmore Alex Johnson hits the ball Tuesday April 1, 2008 at the Southwest Softball Complex against Iowa. The Cyclones loss to Iowa 3-1. Photo: Annie McGuire/Iowa State Daily

Sophmore Alex Johnson hits the ball Tuesday April 1, 2008 at the Southwest Softball Complex against Iowa. The Cyclones loss to Iowa 3-1. Photo: Annie McGuire/Iowa State Daily

Michael Zogg

Sunday morning was the low point in Iowa State’s young season. Fresh off their first loss, the Cyclones waited as their bus was late picking up the team for its 7 a.m. engagement with Jacksonville, cutting significantly into the team’s warm-up time. But then, as coach Stacy Gemeinhardt-Cesler put it, they played “the best we played all weekend.”

“I can’t imagine them going into a game feeling more uncomfortable,” Gemeinhardt-Cesler said.

Yet, the rough situation the Cyclones found themselves in ended up being good for the team as they simultaneously overcame the disappointing end to Saturday and rough start to Sunday with a pair of wins.

“That’s not what you want ideally, but it’s good to still have success when those situations occur,” Gemeinhardt-Cesler said.

Iowa State went on to beat Jacksonville 4-1 and Presbyterian 8-0 on Sunday to conclude a weekend in which they went a combined 5-1 against those two teams.

“I thought that overall [the tournament] was pretty good,” Gemeinhardt-Cesler said. “I thought that we came back a couple of times, which was great, and then the game that we lost, you know, I felt like we kept getting behind early and fighting to come back, fighting to come back, and you’re just probably not always going to be able to do that when you’re giving them so many runs.”

The Cyclones fell behind early in three of the first four games of the Jacksonville Tournament, including their 5-3 loss to Jacksonville.

“Yeah, it concerns me,” Gemeinhardt-Cesler said. “I look back and I try to figure out the reasons why and I think that I never want to give ourselves excuses, but at the same time, its the first time [this season] out on the dirt, and it’s the first time we’ve played outside. You know we have been playing inside for a long time, and so we are going to make some mistakes.”

Calling all pitchers

The graduation of Amy Ford from last year’s team has unexpectedly left the softball team short on hurlers.

The Cyclones were expecting to replace one outgoing pitcher with two freshmen pitchers this season, but early-season injuries have left the team scrabbling.

Cue freshman outfielder Bianca Lopez, who came in and allowed just one hit in a scoreless seventh inning during a 10-3 victory over Presbyterian.

“We knew she could pitch, we didn’t recruit her as a pitcher,” Gemeinhardt-Cesler said.

But freshman Lauren Kennewell’s broken arm, along with freshman Katie Harms’ shoulder impingement turned Lopez into just that, at least for an inning.

“We need to figure out if we have someone that can eat up some innings and so that’s what we were doing with Bianca,” Gemeinhardt-Cesler said. “She did a great job for not throwing for a long time and kind of getting thrown in there.”

Gemeinhardt-Cesler said Lopez will most likely throw a little bit more during practice in the coming weeks.

Best start ever

With the Cyclones’ three straight wins to open the tournament, their 7-0 record was the best start ever for ISU softball.

Seven straight wins just edged out the 1975 team that won its first six games.

“Honestly I don’t even know if [the players] are aware of that or not,” Gemeinhardt-Cesler said.

“I think that it’s great. I think that we are continuing to get better, and when you start to get better then records are going to get broken. I think it’s great, but I also think we have a lot of work left to do.”