Old playgrounds, and new toys, Jaime Pinkerton leads Cyclones to Wooo Pig Classic

Freshman Talyn Lewis Decides not to swing at a pitch Sep. 23, the Pitch was ruled a ball by the umpire. The Cyclones defeated the Kirkwood Eagles 9-1.

Ivan Vega

Spring break is a time for relaxation for many students all around the nation, but the Iowa State Cyclones softball team are continuously grinding through their season.

They will go to Fayetteville, Arkansas, to compete in the Wooo Pig Classic.

The Cyclones are coming off a very busy weekend going 3-2 at the Houston Hilton Plaza Classic, splitting games against Lipscomb, dropping a game against Northwestern and beating out Houston and Penn State.

In addition, they faced UT-Arlington and North Texas during the week.

The Cyclones beat UT-Arlington after the Big 12 standout Sami Williams homered twice to lift the Cyclones over the Mavericks.

“I guess, the first one, I wasn’t thinking about hitting a home run,” Williams said on her first home run against the Mavericks. “On the second one, I knew they wouldn’t pitch me inside, so I just hit it as it came to me.”

Williams had made an adjustment on the pitch, something the Cyclones have been trying to incorporate into real game performances. 

Iowa State split games against North Texas in a double header that saw 25 overall runs between the two teams in 14 innings of softball.

The Cyclones defeated the Mean Green 7-3 in the first game coming back from a 3-1 deficit, largely credited from an emerging Cyclone offense that was firing on all cylinders.

Then, Iowa State dropped a game against the Mean Green shortly afterwards, losing 9-6, but the game was a huge demonstration of the Cyclone offense being able to respond despite trailing.

“Yesterday was one of those games, and the offense finally came along, but I told the pitching staff to shake it off, they carried us all year long when [the] offense was struggling,” said head coach Jaime Pinkerton on the impact the offense had yesterday.

The Cyclones are 15-13 this far into the season, and its largely due to the steady work of the pitching unit.

Brianna Weilbacher has had an impressive 1.65 ERA, and fellow teammate Emma Hylen has been able to gather a 2.95 ERA throughout the season up to the UT-Arlington game.

While being shorthanded for this competition, the Cyclones coaching staff is doing everything possible to monitor the safety and well-being of every player on the roster.

“This is a rough stretch, so we are monitoring [Weilbacher] very closely,” Pinkerton said.

Softball, just like baseball, is a game of failure and struggles. The Cyclones are not invulnerable.

The team has had struggles getting runners in all season, something that could be attributed with the Cyclones losing in close games. But for the most part, it is attributed to the Cyclones’ offensive struggles.

In this tournament in Fayetteville, the Cyclones will face Pinkerton’s former teams in Arkansas, and Tulsa, Pinkerton’s alma mater, along with Saint Francis and Omaha.

The roots go even deeper for Pinkerton, an alum of Tulsa who spent four years as the Golden Hurricanes’ head coach, and three as an assistant coach. Something Pinkerton is very fond upon, posting a 140-105 record in his time there.

“We had a good four years, and I have fond memories as a coach, fond feelings of having success from building that program up,” Pinkerton said on his time in Tulsa.

From 2005-2009, Pinkerton led the Arkansas Razorbacks to a 130-179 record, while including two NCAA tournament berths and an SEC tournament. 

In this tournament, all these memories are just that, memories. And opportunities for the Cyclones to play up to the competition.

The Razorbacks are coming in at 16-5, with an impressive 7-0 record at home.

Tulsa is coming in at 15-10, with a 12-4 record when playing at neutral playing fields.

Omaha is 12-14, with nine defeats coming from three or less runs.

And Saint Francis is 14-12, with an 11-8 record on neutral sites. The Cyclones opened the season defeating them with a narrow 1-0 score.

The Cyclones are finishing their 13-game stretch in 10 days, these being their last games before taking some time off before leading into the Big 12 conference games.

Hylen does not see this as a time to be scared but rather excited.

“Personally, I think this is a good tournament to prepare us for conference games [down the road],” Hylen said.

The pitcher out of Roseville, Minnesota, sees this as an opportunity to get some practice against some of the best hitters in the country.

“I’m excited, it’s really more of a personal challenge,” Hylen said. “And as a bullpen, what we can do against some of the top hitters in the country.”