Three Big Takeaways: Iowa State falls to Kansas via walk-off


Tyler Coe

Tatum Johnson fouls off a pitch against Drake on May 3, 2023.

Iowa State softball lost the final game of its season Sunday after a late rally from Kansas and a final score of 3-2.

Kansas prevented Iowa State from gaining its first season sweep of the season by winning the game highlighted mostly by pitching and defense. The Cyclones held Kansas to zero runs in the first six innings and the Jayhawks scored all their runs in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Senior Ellie Spelhaug became the losing pitcher after 6.1 innings pitched. Saya Swain entered to record the final out for Iowa State.

Iowa State finished its season 24-29 overall and 6-12 in the Big 12. The Jayhawks spoiled an opportunity for Iowa State to finish fourth in the final Big 12 standings. Iowa State needed a win and a Baylor loss Sunday to finish fourth in the conference for the second straight season.

Pitchers’ duel through six

Both starting pitchers worked efficiently in Sunday’s game three of the Big 12 series.

Iowa State’s Spelhaug and Kansas’ Kasey Hamilton dueled for the first six innings of the game. Spelhaug allowed seven baserunners in the first six innings, and all were stranded.

Spelhaug and the Iowa State defense worked to create one-two-three innings in the second, third and fourth. Spelhaug worked to create groundouts as the Iowa State infield made all three outs in the first.

Cyclone catcher Camille Marin found shortstop Alesia Ranches to catch Kansas’ Sara Roszak stealing second base. In the sixth, Kansas threatened with the bases loaded. Saya Swain entered to pitch and like Spelhaug she leaned on her infield.

Carli Spelhaug made an unassisted out at first base after making a diving play to beat the runner. Through six, Ellie Spelhaug and Swain had allowed five hits and no runs.

The Kansas starting pitcher, Hamilton, also created quick outs in her time in the circle. Iowa State had three hits but left three on base during the first three innings. [Carli] Spelhaug put Iowa State on the board after a high fly ball in the fourth cleared the fence in left field.

It was the junior’s seventh home run of the season and put Iowa State up 1-0.

After five innings pitched, Hamilton left the circle for Kansas. Katie Brooks entered to pitch, and Iowa State added another run in the top of the seventh. Marin’s fielder’s choice allowed pinch runner Lea Nelson to score and put Iowa State up 2-0 before the bottom of the seventh inning.

Jayhawks walk-it-off

Hailey Cripe doubled in the seventh to score two runs and put Kansas ahead for a walk-off victory.

After Swain recorded the final out of the sixth, she walked the first Kansas batter of the seventh in four pitches. Iowa State head coach Jamie Pinkerton brought Ellie Spelhaug back into the circle to pitch.

Spelhaug recorded the next two outs then allowed Kansas to start a two out rally. Peyton Renzi walked and was able to advance to third. She was brought in to score after a single from Haleigh Harper.

In the next at bat, Cripe delivered the clutch hit for Kansas. Cripe pulled a line drive down the leftfield line. Presley Limbaugh scored from third and Harper came around to score from first base. Kansas finished ahead 3-2, scoring all three runs in the seventh inning.

Cyclones finish fifth

Iowa State entered Sunday’s slate of Big 12 games with a chance to finish as high as fourth in the final conference standings.

The Cyclones needed a win and a Baylor loss to secure the fourth seed in the upcoming Big 12 tournament. The outcome of both Iowa State’s matchup and Baylor’s matchup with Texas in Waco, Texas did not finish in favor of the Cyclones.

Baylor beat Texas 2-1 and finished with eight Big 12 wins. Iowa State finished with six wins but owns the head-to-head edge over the Bears. Iowa State completed a series win over then ranked No. 18 Baylor on April 30.

As the fifth seed, Iowa State will meet Baylor again at the Big 12 tournament in Oklahoma City. The Cyclones and Bears will play in a first-round matchup at noon on Thursday. The winner will face No. 1 Oklahoma in the second round.

Last season, Iowa State defeated Baylor in the same first round matchup.