Iowa State ready for new-look at Big 12 softball tournament

Iowa State head coach Jamie Trachsel is in her first season coaching the softball team. She helped guide North Dakota State through a transition from Division II to Division I. 

Aaron Marner

Iowa State enters the Big 12 softball tournament this weekend as perhaps the most difficult team to understand.

Following an 0-11 start to the Big 12 schedule, Iowa State reeled off six wins in its final seven Big 12 games to finish in fifth place.

Now, with the regular season completed, Iowa State (23-32, 6-12 Big 12) will have a few more chances at upsets at the Big 12 Tournament in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Thanks to an unusual bracket system, Iowa State will play the two-seed and the three-seed — Oklahoma State and Baylor, respectively — Friday afternoon. The Oklahoma State game will begin at 2 p.m. and the Baylor game is scheduled for 5 p.m.

Depending on the outcome of Friday’s games, Iowa State will play Texas, Texas Tech, or Oklahoma Saturday.

This is the first time any player in the conference has played in the Big 12 Tournament, which returns after a six-year absence.

For the seniors, the Big 12 Tournament is a special experience. They went through a coaching change and several losing seasons, only to start 0-11 in conference play this year. A few weeks ago the Big 12 Tournament looked very unlikely, maybe even out of the picture.


The team is rolling.

Rachel Hartman, a senior first baseman, said Jamie Trachsel is a big part of Iowa State’s turnaround. Trachsel was hired as head coach less than a year ago and has quickly turned Iowa State into a competitive team.

“[The program] changed a lot for the better,” Hartman said. “I think what Jamie has instilled will accelerate this program to be a top program in the next couple years.”

Trachsel’s influence on the team has drastically changed the level of play from the beginning of the season to now.

Iowa State’s first Big 12 games this season were against Texas Tech, who finished one place below the Cyclones in the standings. But back in March, when the games were played, Texas Tech won all three.

If Iowa State drew a matchup with Texas Tech this weekend, however, things might go differently.

The same goes for Friday’s matchups with Baylor and Oklahoma State. Iowa State went just 1-5 combined against them in 2017, but momentum and confidence can change a team overnight.

Freshman second baseman Sami Williams is one of the few Iowa State players who have only played for Trachsel at the college level.

Williams, who has found a role in the leadoff spot at the top of the batting order, said things are different now than at the beginning of the year.

She mentioned a “buy-in” from the seniors as a big help to the freshmen.

“It was definitely impressive to see all the seniors buy into the program too, especially in their last year,” Williams said. “They’ve been here for three years and they’ve known the same thing for three years, and you could tell that they all really really tried to change this last year to fit in the new program. That just helped everyone as a whole.”

That buy-in has allowed Iowa State to peak at the right time.

Sophomore pitcher Emma Hylen also mentioned how much Iowa State has changed from the beginning of the season to now.

“I think kinda throughout the whole season things have been slowly coming together,” Hylen said. “Right now it’s just starting to show up in the stats and our wins. We’ve been challenging all season, we’ve been putting things together and had some really close games against good teams.

“It’s all coming together.”