Cyclone softball faces BYU in three-game series


Collin Maguire/Iowa State Daily

The Cyclones meet at the mound following a Texas homer April 10, 2021 at the Cyclone Sports Complex. Iowa State lost 11-5 to the Longhorns.

Anthony Hanson

Iowa State softball has reached the halfway point of its 2022 season.

What lies ahead for the 19–10 Cyclones is the rigorous Big 12 schedule. But first, Iowa State takes on BYU in a three-game series Friday and Saturday in Provo, Utah.

“As a coaching staff, we know how important these games coming up are,” Iowa State head coach Jamie Pinkerton said.

The Cyclones see BYU after going 4–1 at the Mizuno Classic in Stockton, Calif., to finish a two-week, ten-game road trip in California. The trip saw Iowa State defeat several teams on their home diamonds, narrowly lose to high-quality opponents and pad statistical totals.

Mikayla Ramos notched her twelfth home run of the season in California, and sophomore pitcher Saya Swain notched her second double-digit strikeout game of the season with 16 against Sacramento State.

The Cyclones beat Cal State Fullerton, Long Beach State and Pacific in true road games and avenged a tough one-run loss to Sacramento State by beating the Hornets in the second matchup.

Iowa State boosted its RPI to No. 69 while finishing the road trip 7–3. Pinkerton believes that the team morale after hitting that mark speaks to the trajectory of a program that made its first NCAA regional in multiple decades last season.

“I think there were years that 7–3 would be celebrated, but I think our women were a little bit disappointed,” Pinkerton said. “The level of play is changing, and expectations are changing in the program.”

In addition to being a barometer for the program’s success, Pinkerton said the road trip served as a chemistry builder and a fulfilling experience. Iowa State’s roster is made up of 13 student-athletes from California, including six regular starters.

“[The road trip] really just brought us closer together,” Carli Spelhaug said. “It’s just really nice having that team chemistry and that trust in one another.”

Spelhaug, from Bettendorf, Iowa, is batting .345 with a team-high 39 runs scored from her leadoff position in the lineup through 29 games.

With half a season behind the Cyclones, the season format shifts away from weekend tournament settings and towards head-to-head matchups. Iowa State will stop preparing for five teams each weekend, with BYU being the only opponent Friday and Saturday.

“I think it’s a lot better from a preparation standpoint,” Pinkerton said, looking ahead to a rigorous schedule. “And from a body standpoint, with wear and tear, it will be better for our women.”

BYU is another team Pinkerton is familiar with from time spent in college softball’s western region. Pinkerton previously coached for Montana of the Big Sky Conference. He’s faced the Cougars but never in Provo.

It’s a tough place to play, the head coach said. Plus, it’s a team and venue Pinkerton and Iowa State will need to familiarize itself with.

BYU and Iowa State are engaged in a home-and-home series. The Cougars will come to Ames for a series next season. Then, likely in 2024, BYU will officially join the Big 12 Conference.

BYU is 19–7 so far in 2022. The team comes off a loss to No. 13 Oregon by a 9–3 margin. Monday, the West Coast Conference announced BYU’s Chole Temples as conference pitcher of the week. Offensively, the Cougars are led by sophomore Violet Zavodnik, who bats for a team-high .430 average and .810 slugging percentage.

A double-header begins at 5 p.m. Friday between BYU and Iowa State. They will wrap up action at 2 p.m. Saturday.