ISU softball plays underdog to Big 12 leader Oklahoma

Emily Arthur

The ISU softball team may be the obvious underdog in this weekend’s home series against No. 9 Oklahoma, but head coach Ruth Crowe said the key to the games will be getting her team to perform like they aren’t.

“We need to come out and play as if we expect to win,” Crowe said. “A team like Oklahoma, they might beat us nine out of 10 times, but we can still get a game from them. That’s how we need to approach this weekend.”

Oklahoma has yet to lose in the Big 12 Conference in five games this season and brings a 32-8 record into the weekend.

Compare that to the Cyclones’ 4-2 record in the conference and 13-10 record overall, and something stands out – Oklahoma has played 17 more games.

“Sometimes people think more is better, I don’t necessarily agree with that,” Crowe said. “Sometimes you can play too much. You like to have the right balance between the amount of games you play and your practices; practice is important.”

Cancellations and postponements due to the weather have resulted in Iowa State’s 23-game schedule, by far the lowest amount in the Big 12 Conference.

“The quality of teams we play is so much better than what some of them have played, so I don’t think it’s a disadvantage,” ISU leadoff hitter Adi Blackmon said. “We definitely have a difficult schedule.”

Crowe said her team has had a great week of practice despite not being able to get outdoors.

“The rec is a great facility for us to practice in. A lot of teams, when it’s too cold outside, have to move their practices to a gym. We’re very lucky in the fact that the rec makes it easy to practice even though the weather may be bad,” she said.

The team would rather be outside, but practicing indoors also has its benefits, something Blackmon has noticed.

“It has really given us a chance to key in on our hitting,” she said. “We’ve worked a lot on that this week and hopefully it brings results.”

Oklahoma is coming off a 6-5 win over Oklahoma State on Wednesday.

The Sooners rallied in seventh inning, scoring five runs on the way to the win.

Oklahoma has also made two consecutive appearances in the Women’s College World Series and have the ability to make it back again this season. Blackmon is well aware of how good they are, but she said the Sooners’ impressive record doesn’t scare her.

“I think we’re ready to pounce on top of them and take a game,” she said. “We’ve beat some good teams in the conference. We have the mindset to beat Oklahoma.”

Iowa State will find out if its ready at 2 p.m. on Saturday and 12 p.m. on Sunday.

“We’ll need all three forces working together,” Blackmon said. “We have great hitting, great pitching and great defense. … All three have to be hitting on all tiers.”