Three Big Takeaways: Iowa State nearly no-hit at Marry Nutter Classic


Zachary D. Bland

Saya Swain winds up to throw a pitch against the University of Northern Iowa in Game 2 of the NCAA Columbia Regional on May 22. (Photo courtesy of Iowa State Athletic Communications)

Anthony Hanson

Iowa State returned to form Saturday against San Diego, then lost the nightcap to Loyola Marymount after nearly being no-hit.

Iowa State routed San Diego by a mercy-rule margin of 17-5 in five innings. Then, Loyola Marymount defeated Iowa State 4-1 after Iowa State could not produce a hit in the first 6.2 innings of play.

Offense was back on track…

In Saturday’s first game, Iowa State’s offensive lineup returned to form while facing San Diego. The Iowa State team with some of the nation’s hottest bats struggled in Friday’s two outings.

Iowa State could only manage one hit against No. 6 UCLA on Friday. The matchup was Iowa State’s first shutout of the season. To respond on Saturday, Iowa State batters blasted the San Diego pitching staff with 14 hits, two home runs and five extra base hits.

Catcher Mikayla Ramos was a double away from hitting the cycle against San Diego after the senior lost her four-game home run hitting streak against UCLA on Friday. After hitting a two-run home run in the top of the first, Ramos became the nation’s leader with eight home runs.

Shortstop Alesia Ranches also homered in the top of the second, her fourth of the season. Ranches is second behind Ramos is home runs for the Cyclones.

The 17 runs Iowa State produced while facing San Diego is the most of the 2022 season so far. The Cyclones struck out zero times in the 12-run victory.

…Then, the slump returned

Iowa State’s offensive barrage against San Diego did not translate to offensive consistence when the Cyclones took the field against Loyola Marymount.

Loyola Marymount starting pitcher Jenna Perez threw 6.2 innings of no-hit softball. While striking out 11 Cyclone batters and walking four, Perez allowed no hits until Natalie Wellet’s RBI double broke up the no-hit bid. Kasey Simpson came around to score Iowa State’s only run.

Perez was ready to go early as she retired the first six Cyclone batters in order.

In the fifth inning, Iowa State failed bring home two runners in scoring position. Perez walked two batters to start the inning then proceeded to strike out three consecutive Iowa State batters.

Saya Swain seems to have cooled off

Sophomore pitcher Saya Swain was Iowa State’s breakout star in the circle for the early 2022 season. Swain pitched a 17-strikeout gem at the UNI-Dome earlier in February. She entered the Mary Nutter Classic with a 3-0 record and was Iowa State’s leader in strikeouts.

In California, Swain has struggled to find a multi-inning grove. She recorded just one out against UCLA on Friday while walking two batters. And Swain gave up two runs in two thirds innings against San Diego.

Facing Loyola Marymount, Swain picked up her first loss of the season. She gave up eight hits and four runs to the Lions.

Iowa State will finish the Mary Nutter Classic Sunday with another bout against a top-ten team. No. 5 Washington will play the Cyclones starting at 11 a.m. on the final day of the tournament. The Huskies have lost three games while playing at the Mary Nutter Classic, including back-to-back shutout defeats against No. 16 Missouri and No. 18 Northwestern on Saturday.

Washington lost to Missouri 10-0 and fell to Northwestern 1-0. With the Huskies on a two-game skid, Iowa State has a prime opportunity for a marquee win. In its last top-10 matchup, Iowa State remained tied with No. 6 UCLA for five innings. The Cyclones, who received votes in the last rankings, lost to the Bruins 3-0.