Cyclones get close, then blown away

Mark Pawlak

Close, but not quite.

The ISU softball team played Oklahoma evenly and had a chance to send a message before the Sooners pulled away to take a doubleheader from the Cyclones, 10-6 and 11-1, Saturday at the Southwest Athletic Complex.

Iowa State (13-12, 4-4) held the lead twice in the opener and was tied at 6-6 after five innings of play. From there, the ninth-ranked Sooners (34-8, 7-0) scored 15 consecutive runs.

Oklahoma, which has been to two consecutive College World Series and won the national title in 2000, was on the ropes before the Sooners made their run.

“I think they expected us to roll over and die once they took the lead and it was 3-2,” ISU head coach Ruth Crowe said. “We didn’t. We came back and scored our own three runs, it sent the message. We should have won that game. We make a couple defensive plays, we win that game.”

Julia Lindsey led off the first inning by reaching base after she was hit by a pitch. Two batters later, ISU career home run leader Erica Martinez added to her total with a two-run home run to left field to give Iowa State a 2-0 advantage.

The Sooners rallied for three runs in the third inning off of ISU pitcher Martinez with the help of two walks and an error to take a 3-2 lead before the Cyclones answered.

Adi Blackmon laid down a bunt for a single and Martinez reached on an error to start the ISU third inning. Lindsey Herrin followed with a three-run home run.

Herrin’s seventh home run of the year chased Oklahoma’s top pitcher, Jennifer Stewart, from the game. Stewart came into the contest with a record of 14-3 and has been a third-team All-American two years in a row.

With a two-run triple by Erin Evans and a run-scoring double by Kami Keiter in the fifth inning, the Sooners took a 6-5 lead.

Iowa State answered again in its half of the fifth when Martinez led off with her second home run of the game to tie the score at 6-6. Martinez has eight home runs on the season and the junior has 20 for her career.

“I felt pretty good at the plate today,” Martinez said. “I felt really patient. Usually I’m anxious.”

Oklahoma scored three times in the sixth inning and added a run in the seventh to down the Cyclones 10-6, with the big blow being a three-run home run by Leah Gulla.

Martinez took the loss for Iowa State, giving up 10 runs on 10 hits, while striking out 10. The loss dropped her record to 6-6 on the season.

At the plate, Martinez went 3-for-4 and had three runs-batted-in. Herrin added two hits and also drove in three. Amberly Lessenger added two hits.

The Cyclones could not match its effort from the opener in the second game and were downed 11-1 in five innings.

“I think it was a let down from the standpoint that we really felt we could hit their pitcher a little bit harder in the second game than what we did,” Crowe said. “I think it’s hard to come out and play doubleheaders. Playing anybody twice is hard to do.

The Sooners scored five runs off of eight hits on losing pitcher Jen Bice (7-6) in the first two innings. Herrin came on as relief and fared the same, giving up six runs on six hits over the final three innings.

“[Oklahoma] can hit. I had a feeling that they would come out like that,” Crowe said. “I didn’t think that Jen pitched her best either, but they are great hitters. They proved it, they came out ready to score runs. I don’t think that they liked it that we were able to play with them that first game as close as it was. They wanted to make a point too.”

Diana Reuter accounted for Iowa State’s only run with a solo home run in the fifth inning.

It won’t get any easier for the Cyclones as they travel to Lincoln to face No. 4 Nebraska on Tuesday at 3:30 p.m.

Despite the outcome, Martinez said the Cyclones will take something good out of Saturday’s games.

“I take what happened in the first game. In the second game, we were pretty flat at the plate,” she said.

“In the first game, we hit and took their best pitcher off the mound. That shows what we can do. If we hold them to a couple less runs than what they had before, we can beat pretty much anybody in the conference.”