Errors plague Iowa State’s series opener against No. 9 Texas


Tyler Coe

Ellie Spelhaug delivers the ball to home in game one against Oklahoma on Mar. 24, 2023.

Anthony Hanson, Sports Reporter

AMES—Iowa State head coach Jamie Pinkerton couldn’t sugarcoat Thursday’s matchup with No. 9 Texas.

Iowa State softball lost to Texas 8-0 after Cyclone mistakes sparked a big inning for the Longhorn hitters. Texas scored six in the third inning after the heart of the Longhorn order came to the plate for the second time.

The Iowa State defense worked its way out of a first inning jam but errors compounded as the game progressed. The Cyclones committed four errors in the third inning.

“Defensively we just weren’t good today,” Pinkerton said.

Texas finished ahead and gained the 8-0 win by run rule. Iowa State was held to zero runs at home for the fourth time this season.

“Errors are going to happen; it’s part of the game,” Pinkerton said. “But you can’t let them build one upon another. We’re talking about a top-10 team.”

In total, Iowa State committed five errors against No. 9 Texas.

Iowa State starting pitcher Saya Swain left Thursday’s matchup with four strikeouts. The Cyclone strikeout leader allowed seven hits and the Texas hitters capitalized for six runs against Swain.

Swain’s outing started with a first inning jam. Texas threatened with the bases loaded to open Thursday’s matchup and the series.

Swain retired Texas freshman phenom Leighann Goode in the leadoff spot but an error, a hit by pitch and swinging bunt for a hit loaded the bases for the Longhorns. With Texas’ Reese Atwood at the plate, Swain needed her defense to come through.

The Cyclones’ middle infield did. Second baseman Kasey Simpson fielded Atwood’s ground ball and turned an inning-ending double play. Shortstop Alesia Ranches’ throw was late to first base, but interference was called on the sliding Longhorn baserunner.

Iowa State came to the plate in the first with the score still even.

Swain settled in after damage was avoided in the first inning. Swain dictated her style of play by working ahead in counts for strikeouts and allowing her defense to make plays behind her. Swain retired five-straight batters in the second and third including four strikeouts.

Swain limited Goode in her second at bat. Goode, who entered the game with a .400 batting average, struck out swinging in the third. It was Swain’s third-consecutive strikeout and gave the Cyclones two outs in the third.

Swain’s momentum ended when Texas reached the heart of its order again. The two-through-eight hitters to Texas reached base in the third and mounted a two-out rally for the Longhorns.

The same hitters that forced the bases-loaded jam in the first returned to the plate in the third. This time, the Longhorn offense capitalized off five hits and four Cyclone errors. Viviana Martinez earned her second hit of the game with a two-run home run. Mia Scott and Alyssa Washington also reached base for the second time in the third.

Ellie Spelhaug entered from the Iowa State bullpen to stop the bleeding. She recorded the final out of the third inning to stop the two-out rally and continued in the circle until the end of the game.

“We just came out a little low energy today,” Spelhaug said. “It’s just a matter of can we get defense, hitting and pitching on at the same time. When we do that I think we’re going to have a really nice breakthrough.”

Offensively, the Cyclones made solid contact against Texas starting pitcher Mac Morgan but the Texas defense limited the Cyclones to two hits. Tiana Poole recorded a double in the second inning and Mikayla Ramos added a single in the fourth.

Iowa State will return to action on Friday with another matchup against the Longhorns. Game two of the series will start at 4 p.m. and can be streamed on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.