Replacing Sami Williams and Iowa State’s more balanced lineup

Anthony Hanson

At the end of Iowa State softball’s 2021 season, some massive shoes needed to be filled.

This was no secret.

Shortstop Sami Williams, the school’s all-time leader in home runs, hits and runs scored, would be graduating from the program.

Williams produced an eye-popping offensive stat line in 2021 with a .446 batting average and 21 home runs. Her offensive prowess led Iowa State to its first NCAA tournament appearance since 1988.

At the end of the season, Williams was joined by fellow infielder Logan Schaben as the only two seniors leaving the program.

Tasked with filling a large hole in the lineup, Iowa State’s 2022 hitters have kept pace.

In fact, offensive numbers have slightly improved.

“With everyone back expect for Sami and Logan […] who’s going to step into that leadership vacuum?” head coach Jamie Pinkerton said before Iowa State’s opening tournament of 2022. “I think right now we’ve done a good job of that by committee.”

Through 39 games, Iowa State’s team batting average is .292, compared to .285 in 2021. The team slugging percentage is up to .493 from .466 last season. Additionally, on base percentage and on base plus slugging have slightly improved all without the team’s biggest asset from a season ago.

Iowa State has seven batters with an average above .250 so far in 2022. At the end of the 2021 season the Cyclones had four.

“It’s been a collective effort,” Pinkerton said revisiting the topic at the season’s halfway point. “I think the lineup is deeper one through nine.”

Iowa State hasn’t been dependent on one voice, Pinkerton said. It’s been different hitters at different times, like freshman Angelina Allen, leadoff hitter Carli Spelhaug or new de-facto leader Mikayla Ramos.

“Mik[ayla] is kind of your coach on the field,” Pinkerton said.

In 2021, Ramos recorded 13 home runs. In Iowa State’s 33rd game this year, she matched that number with a first inning solo shot against Texas. 

From the catcher position, Ramos has 43 RBI in her 2022 campaign. Ramos led the team in RBI in 2021 but has increased her slugging percentage by over 100 points for her senior season. Ramos established a single season school record in 2021 with 57 RBI and if the Riverside, California native keeps pace she’ll break her own mark in 2022.

“To be in that position, you have to have people on [base] in front of you, Pinkerton said. “Her teammates put her in a good spot to drive those runs in.”

In 2021, Ramos and Williams were the only two batters with an on base percentage greater than .400. Through 32 games in the 2022 season, Iowa State has five offensive starters over that threshold. Every returning starter has seen their OBP increase from 2021 to 2022.