Three Big Takeaways: No. 1 Oklahoma ignites, sweeps Iowa State


Tyler Coe

Sarah Tyree throws the ball to first in game one against Oklahoma on Mar. 24, 2023.

AMES – Iowa State softball lost its first series of Big 12 conference play Saturday in a sweep to No. 1 Oklahoma.

The defending champion Sooners improved their record to 30-1 on the season after two decisive wins, taking down the Cyclones 13-3 in the first game and 10-0 in the second. Both of Saturday’s games ended in the fifth inning.

Iowa State’s record fell to 11-17 on the season. However, Iowa State drew a record crowd of 1,715 fans in attendance at Cyclone Sports Complex.

Cyclones against May

Iowa State knew it was close to seeing offensive success against No. 1 Oklahoma. Even after the Cyclones reached base only once in Friday’s series opener, catcher Mikayla Ramos said the lineup didn’t feel limited.

The Cyclones gained solid contact and “loud outs” in their 3-0 loss to Oklahoma starting pitcher Alex Storako, Ramos said Friday postgame.

Saturday, Iowa State’s contact translated into offense – especially in game one of the doubleheader. The Cyclones faced another one of NCAA softball’s top starting pitchers. This time, Iowa State recorded three runs on two hits and two extra base hits against Oklahoma’s Nicole May.

In her first eight starts in 2023, May allowed only one earned run. The junior entered Saturday’s matchup with Iowa State tied for first in D-1 softball with a 0.14 ERA (earned run average). She entered game one with a perfect 8-0 record with one save in her nine appearances.

The Cyclones found an offensive spark right away.

In the bottom of the first, Carli Spelhaug led off the game with a walk and stolen base. Two batters later, Milaysia Ochoa drove a fly ball into the gap in left-center field. Ochoa’s hit landed at the top of the wall as the Cyclone center fielder hustled to second base with a double.

“I was just looking for something I could hit to the opposite field,” Ochoa said. “She [May] was a little bit more up. We were just ready to attack that.”

Later in the inning, Angelina Allen made solid contact to force in another run. The left-handed Allen pulled a line drive off the glove of Oklahoma first baseman Cydney Sanders. Ochoa came around to score on the Oklahoma error.

In the first inning of game one, Iowa State’s offense forced 2 earned runs against May. In game one, Iowa State drew four walks against May – the most allowed by the Oklahoma sophomore all season.

Oklahoma ignites

Iowa State entered its first Big 12 series with its focus on limiting the momentum of the Oklahoma offense.

Head coach Jamie Pinkerton utilized a rotation of pitchers in each game to give the Sooners different looks and to limit the No. 1 team’s big inning potential. In total, the Cyclones made eight pitching changes in three games against the Sooners.

After a relatively slow start to the series Friday, the Oklahoma offense caught fire Saturday. While the Iowa State game plan was in order on Friday and Iowa State held Oklahoma below their season scoring average, Oklahoma responded with offensive fireworks Saturday.

Oklahoma leads the nation with an average of 9.0 runs per game. Saturday, the Sooners tallied 13 runs in game one and 10 runs in game two. The Sooners tied a season-high with six home runs in game one of Saturday’s doubleheader.

“They have an innate ability to take advantage of your mistakes,” Pinkerton said. “They’re a team that you can’t leave a pitch up. You can’t make a mistake pitch because they’re going to take advantage of it.”

The offensive barrage continued to start game two. Oklahoma scored eight runs in the first inning to gain the decisive lead over Iowa State. Pinkerton and the Cyclones used three pitchers in the first inning of game two while the Sooners sent 12 hitters to the plate.

Big 12 play continues

Iowa State will continue its transition from non-conference games in neutral sites to Big 12 conference matchups.

The Cyclones will travel to face Texas Tech for a three-game set starting March 31. The Red Raiders are 26-10 on the season and most recently lost their first two Big 12 conference games to No. 8 Texas.