Cyclones prepare for road test in the Battle at the Beach

Ryan Leon

The ISU softball team puts its perfect record on the line in its first road test at this year’s annual Battle at the Beach tournament.

The Cyclones are coming off of four straight wins at last week’s Cyclone Invitational. Iowa State put on an offensive showcase, outscoring its opponents 24-10. The team was sparked by senior Maddie Reese, who exploded for two home runs, a triple, and five RBIs through the four games.

The team also got some unexpected help from freshman outfielder Kelsey McFarland, who started all four games and hit a grand slam against Utah State.

“I’m just really excited to be a part of this team,” McFarland said. “It’s really humbling to get to start for this team as a freshman.”

Offense wasn’t the only reason for the great start to the season. Pitcher Katie Johnson got the win in all four of the Cyclones’ contests, including two starts. Johnson finished with 19.0 innings pitched and didn’t allow a single run through all four games.

“When you pitch that many games, I think mental toughness is a really overlooked part of it,” Johnson said. “We really just wanted to get off to a strong start and I think we all did our jobs to do that.”

The team earned momentum to carry into its first road test. The team has been training for the road since early in the offseason and has come in as one of the strongest and most fit teams in ISU history. With a six-day-a-week practice schedule, the team believes it is more than ready to get out and play.

“We’ve done everything that’s in our control to be ready to play,” said ISU coach Stacy Gemeinhardt-Cesler.

The ISU softball team will be playing its first games of the season on dirt, which could make fielding the ball an issue. The team has been fielding at a near-perfect rate this season, boasting a team fielding percentage of .966. The Cyclones will face additional tests dealing with the different bounces of a real dirt field.

However, the Cyclones will have one advantage on their opponents — dealing with the temperature. With game time temps projected to be around 45 degrees, the Cyclones will be more familiar with the chilly conditions compared to their southern-based opponents.

The Cyclones will take on Ole Miss, St. Bonaventure and Coastal Carolina this weekend in Conway, S.C.

The Cyclones battle Ole Miss at 9 a.m. and Coastal Carolina at 3:45 p.m. Feb. 13. Iowa State will then play Ole Miss again at 9 a.m. and St. Bonaventure at 11:30 a.m. Feb. 14. The Cyclones will finish the tournament Feb. 15 with an 11:30 a.m. game against Coastal Carolina.