TIMES ARE CHANGING
In the 2018-2019 season, the softball program went an impressive 37-25. It was the Cyclones best season since, well... ever really. The last time they won 37 games in a single season was 1982. The mark also came in just shy of the single season record of 38. At first glace, finishing 5th in a conference with 7 teams doesn’t seem that fantastic, but when you consider that of the 4 teams above, 3 of them finished the year inside the top ten in the country. Needless to say, the Big 12 is pretty damn good at softball.
HOLES TO FILL
The program boasted 8 seniors last season which certainly contributed to some of their success. Losing that many seniors can set a program back years. However their best performances came from Junior Sami Williams. Williams broke several single season records for the Cyclones including base hits (82), runs (59), doubles (25) and home runs (17). To state the obvious, that’s REALLY good.
HERE COMES THE CAVALRY
There are 9 freshman on the roster heading into the first game of the season, and they’re bringing in a lot of success from their respective schools. Four of those Freshman are coming into the program after winning state titles during high school.
Notably, Cari Spelhaug won 2018 Metro Player of the Year in Iowa, Janessa Jasso won an MVP as well as being All State in California, Karlie Charles was named to the All-Tournament team while leading her squad to a state title, Lea Nelson won 3 straight state titles while being named captain of the All-Tournament team, Ellie Spelhaug collected First Team All State as well as Quad City Athlete of the Year.
So it goes without saying that this recruiting class has the ability to do something special for the program.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Naturally when you’re coming off one of the best seasons in your schools history, expectations are going to follow. Having to play in a conference like the Big 12 that hosts 4 of the best softball programs in the country, it wont be an easy task to take these Cyclones to new heights.
Iowa State finished the season ranked 49th in the country after ending 2018 ranked 75th. That’s a great jump from one season to the next. If this trend continues then we could potentially see the Cyclones become a top 25 program in the country if this highly touted incoming class of freshman lives up to the hype.
WHO TO WATCH
Jamie Pinkerton is going into his 3rd year as head coach, and if you take a look at his record he’s done a good job of turning programs around and generally improving them overall. He’ll be going into his 19th year as a head coach, in 15 of those seasons he improved his teams overall record from the previous season. He’s made the NCAA Tournament 3 times, as well as bringing Iowa State to the NISC Championship game where they unfortunately fell to UT Arlington. After just one season at Iowa State Pinkerton had a 14 win improvement from his first year, and with a solid recruiting class coming in, it’ll be fun to watch where he can continue to take this squad.
As mentioned earlier, Sami Williams is really good at softball, like really good. After breaking many single season records for the Cyclones last season, it’s gonna be a treat to see what she’ll be able to do in her final season in Ames. Sami has always been a great player but she stepped it up to a different level last season, getting into the All Big 12 First Team, one of the few Iowa State players to ever do so. So an easy piece of advice, watch out for #7 this season.
Mikayla Ramos was the only other Cyclone to receive an individual honor from the Big 12 this year, getting voted on to the All Big 12 Freshman team. Ramos played big when it mattered most, in almost every single statistical category Ramos improved during Big 12 play. Not to mention having one of her best games during the NISC Regional’s against South Dakota State. We’re lucky that we’ll have 3 more seasons out of her at catcher.
Ellie Spelhaug was an athletic star in high school. Winning state titles in several sports, two separate Athlete of the Year awards while also making All State. Ellie had a 0.67 ERA with 133 strikeouts her senior season. If she can continue to preform as well as she did in high school at the D1 level, she can continue to help take this softball program to the next level.
LETS SHOW OUT
The first game of the season is February 6th against Memphis in Honolulu. Which isn’t exactly the greatest chance to show some of that iconic Iowa State love in person, but this tournament is gonna be a great way to start the year off strong. Some tough opponents in a fun environment. The first home game isn’t until March 27th against Oklahoma, the best team in the Big 12 and one of the best in the nation. When the time comes we need to show them our support and bring another Cyclone program into national prominence.