Small ball and long ball: a tale of two coaches


Richard Martinez / Iowa State Daily

Coach Stacy Gemeinhardt-Cesler meets with Paris Imholz, junior, and Rachel Hartman, freshman, at the mound in the winding innings of the game against North Dakota. The Cyclones later won the series 2-0.

Trevor Holbrook

Small ball and long ball. 

Iowa State softball has seen both sides of the spectrum.

Small ball relies heavily on unique ways to score. It generally gets started with a walk or single, followed by a sacrifice bunt or steal to get the runner to scoring position.

Once the runner is in scoring position, the team needs one more hit for a chance at scoring. In order for small ball to work a team is required to be able to bunt, run the bases effectively and pitch well.

Long ball throws all the stealing and bunting out the window. The long ball strategy is flashier, focusing on big hits and piling on runs.







Strikeouts (pitching)



Batting Average






Home Runs



Sacrifice Hits






Stolen Bases



Stolen Base Attempts



Winning Percentage



Conference Winning Percentage



Vs. Texas



*Gemeinhardt-Cesler stats are the single season averages from 2012-2016

The Cyclones previous softball head coach, Stacy Gemeinhardt-Cesler, maintained more of a long ball approach to the game. Her teams broke the school record for highest ERA multiple times, but they also set records for home runs, batting average, runs scored and many more offensive stats.

Current coach Jamie Trachsel tends to play the small ball route. In Iowa State’s one season under Trachsel, the Cyclones shattered the school record for steals and steal attempts.

“When you watch them, they look like they care about each other and they care about what they’re doing,” Trachsel told the Daily last September about expectations for her team. “They’re coached well, they’re gonna play the game the right way, and hopefully a little killer instinct so we can finish off some games.”

Trachsel also said fans could expect to see hustle, intensity and great energy.

Cyclone fans saw plenty of energy and hustle this past season. In Iowa State’s one season under Trachsel, the Cyclones shattered the school record for steals and steal attempts.

Under Trachsel, a majority of Iowa State’s offensive stats have dipped, and the pitching stats have improved. The strikeouts, stolen bases and sacrifice hits have all skyrocketed.

Neither of these strategies matter if you can’t win. Gemeinhardt-Cesler and Trachsel have very similar winning percentages, but Trachsel does have the edge in conference play.

Not only does Trachsel have a higher conference winning percentage, but she also has two wins over a historically good Texas team. Prior to this season, Iowa State only had one win over the Longhorns in 49 games.

Trachsel has gotten off to a strong start as the Cyclone head coach, but Gemeinhardt-Cesler deserves credit for Iowa State’s success, too.

Gemeinhardt-Cesler managed to obtain offensive talent. All the contributions from players this season, were recruited by Gemeinhardt-Cesler.

One of Iowa State’s signees for the 2017 class, Taylor Nearad, is one of the best power hitters in all of junior college softball, but also has the ability to steal bases and play small ball.

Will Trachsel elect to shift towards long ball once her own recruits are in uniform? Only time will tell.