TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Iowa State (1-1) split a pair of games on the opening day of the 2019 season at the JoAnne Graf Classic on Friday. The Cyclones defeated UNC Greensboro (0-2), 4-2, in the season-opener before falling in a 1-0 nail-biter against No. 1 Florida State.
Iowa State 4, UNCG 2
The Cyclones fell in an early hole, but a two-out rally in the top of the sixth inning lifted Iowa State past the Spartans. Iowa State would ride the momentum and a strong complete game outing from senior pitcher Emma Hylen to win its season-opener.
UNCG, an NCAA Regional team in 2018, got on the board first with a run in the bottom of the second inning. Kayleigh Willis opened the inning with a double, and was pinch-run for by Kamryn Graves. The speedy Graves would score later in the inning on a wild pitch to give the Spartans a 1-0 lead.
Senior infielder Sydney Stites knotted the game at 1-1 with a monstrous solo home run in the top of the fourth. The native of Bozeman, Mont., connected on a 1-1 pitch to lead-off the inning with a shot over the fence in left center. It was Stites’ 26th career home run, and her eighth as a Cyclone.
Makenna Matthijs responded with an RBI double in the bottom of the fifth, as UNCG regained the lead, 2-1.
Cyclone senior Kaylee Bosworth came up with perhaps the biggest hit of the day for Iowa State in the top of the sixth. With two outs and Stites on first, Bosworth laced a rope to left center for an RBI double, as Stites scored her second run of the day, tying the game at 2-2. Freshman Mikayla Ramos then stepped to the plate and notched an RBI single in the first at-bat of her collegiate career to give ISU its first lead of the game.
Later in the inning, with the bases loaded, another freshman came up big for the Cyclones. Kasey Simpson battled through a 13-pitch at-bat, including eight foul balls, to draw a walk that scored Ramos from third, putting ISU ahead 4-2.
Hylen put the finishing touches of Iowa State’s first win of the season. The senior went all 7.0 innings while giving up just two runs on seven hits, to go with seven strikeouts. With the win, Iowa State improved to 2-0 in season-openers under head coach Jamie Pinkerton.
No. 1 Florida State 1, Iowa State 0
The Cyclones battled the reigning national champions valiantly on Friday night at JoAnne Graf Field behind an outstanding showing from senior pitcher Savannah Sanders. Backed by an impressive defensive showing, Sanders pitched all 6.0 innings, giving up just one run on five hits against the nation’s No. 1 team.
There were opportunities on offense, but the Cyclones were never able to come up with the timely hit they needed to break through against Seminole ace Meghan King. Iowa State looked particularly primed to break up a 0-0 tie in the top of the third inning.
Williams collected the first ISU base hit of the game on a single to left field, followed by a double to right from Stites. Kelsey McFarland then reached on a fielder’s choice to load the bases with one out. However, King worked out of the jam with a pair of infield grounders.
The Seminoles’ lone run of the day came on a solo homer by Sydney Sherrill in the bottom of the sixth inning, proving to be the difference. The one run was the fewest ever allowed by Iowa State against a No. 1-ranked foe.
Iowa State resumes play at the JoAnne Graf Classic on Saturday. The Cyclones once again face No. 1 Florida State at 2:00 p.m. CT and UNC Wilmington at 4:30 p.m. CT.