Iowa State softball makes tweaks ahead of tournament


Iowa State junior Brianna Weilbacher pitches in the fourth inning. 

Andy Stubblefield

One inning.

That has often been the difference between a win and a loss for the Iowa State softball team (7-7) this season.

The Cyclones play well for most of the game. But Iowa State often breaks down defensively for one inning, allowing opposing offenses to score.

“We had probably one inning in each game that almost kind of defined that game,” coach Jamie Trachsel said. “We actually played better the other innings, but all it takes in our sport is that one inning to really change the game and we ran into that a couple of times.”

Iowa State wants to put together five complete games as it travels to St. George, Utah to compete in the St. George Red Desert Classic beginning Friday. The Cyclones are slated to compete against UC Santa Barbara, UNLV, Nevada, Utah State and Utah Valley throughout the weekend.

The Cyclones hold a 7-2 record when they score first but are 0-5 when they concede the first run of the game. In Iowa State’s 0-4 weekend at the Samford/UAB tournament, they allowed at least one run in the first inning of every game.

Not only is it important offensively to get on the scoreboard first, it is important defensively.

“[Scoring a run first] brings the energy up,” junior pitcher Bri Weilbacher said. “I don’t want runs to score because my offense is working for me.”

Weilbacher said that having a run on the board gives her a sense of confidence on the pitcher’s mound.

Weilbacher enters the weekend with a 2-1 record in five appearances and an ERA of 2.67. She has 31 strikeouts in 21 innings pitched. Opposing batters have a .215 batting average when Weilbacher is on the mound.

Trachsel plans to keep the focus off the opponents and on themselves this week.

“It doesn’t really matter who we are playing,” Trachsel said. “We are focused on us, what we can control and the things we need to work on.”

While every phase of the game has to improve, the focus in practice this week was on the little things. The Cyclones need to focus on eliminating errors on routine plays and eliminating unearned runs.

Weilbacher doesn’t think the Cyclones need to make any big tweaks to their game.

“Just come out and be ourselves,” Weilbacher said. “Don’t overthink it.”

The Cyclones will open up the tournament against the University of California (13-1), Santa Barbara (4-10) and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (9-5). Play begins at 4 p.m. Friday.

“I’m looking forward to seeing our team respond,” Trachsel said. “Seeing how they respond to some adversity, which I think they will.”