ORLANDO, Fla. – Iowa State (5-2) split the opening day of the Knights Classic, defeating Villanova (4-3), 4-3, before falling in a 3-2 nine-inning heart breaker to UCF (6-2).
Iowa State 4, Villanova 3
Villanova got on the board first in Iowa State’s opening game at the UCF Softball Complex, putting up one run in the top of the first inning. Angela Giampolo and Megan Kern collected base hits, followed by a wild pitch with two outs to allows Giampolo to score from third, putting Iowa State in an early 1-0 hole.
The Cyclones answered in the ensuing frame with a big inning. Logan Schaben and Alesia Ranches got the offense started by drawing walks to start the frame. Hannah Carter then stepped to the plate and tied the game with a single up the middle, as a throwing error on the Wildcat center fielder allowed Schaben to slide in safe at home. Skyler Ramos gave Iowa State the lead in the following at-bat, collecting an RBI on a ground out that allowed Ranches to race home, giving Iowa State a 2-1 advantage.
Bryn Hanrahan, the designated player, kept things rolling for Iowa State with an RBI single to left field, allowing Carter to score easily from third, putting ISU in front 3-1.
A strong outing from freshman pitcher Janessa Jasso and the Cyclone defense continued until finding trouble in the home half of the fifth inning. Giampolo hit a solo home run to lead-off the frame, but Ellie Spelhaug entered the circle in relief midway through the frame and worked out of trouble. Jasso rang up four strikeouts in 4.1 innings of work, allowing just five hits and two runs.
An insurance run in the top of the seventh would prove critical for the Cyclones. Carli Spelhaug earned a lead-off walk and stole second, followed by a Sami Williams single to left field to put runners on the corners with no outs. Later in the inning, Schaben roped an RBI single down the left field line, scoring Spelhaug to extend the Cyclone lead to 4-2.
Iowa State found itself in a tight spot in the bottom of the seventh when Kern picked up an RBI double to cut the lead to 4-3 and put runners on second and third with one out. However, Spelhaug was brilliant in sealing the deal. The freshman hurler struck out the final two Wildcat batters she faced to slam the door shut on Villanova.
Spelhaug picked up her first career save, while Jasso improved to 2-0 on the season with the win.
UCF 3, Iowa State 2 (9 innings)
The Cyclones were able to strike first in the nightcap vs. UCF. Hanrahan earned a lead-off walk in the top of the second inning to represent Iowa State’s first base runner of the game. Ranches then moved her over to third on a blooper down the right field line.
Ranches was called out at second on the play, but a Carter walk in the next at-bat put runners on the corners with one out. Mikayla Ramos then put the Cyclones on the board with a sacrifice fly, collecting an RBI as Hanrahan raced home from third to put Iowa State in front, 1-0.
The Knights knotted the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning capitalizing on a Cyclone error to plate their first run. Following a base hit by Jazmine Esparza, UCF’s Damaria Cannon laid down a bunt, and an ISU throwing error allowed Esparza to race all the way home.
The two teams traded runs in the eighth inning via the International Tiebreaker rule. Williams ripped an RBI single up the middle, scoring Jayden McKeague from third to give Iowa State a brief lead in top of the inning. However, the Knights responded with a sacrifice fly by Shannon Doherty to tie things again at 2-2.
UCF tallied the game-winning run in the home half of the ninth inning, on an RBI single to left field by Karissa Ornelas.
Charles went 7.2 innings without allowing an earned run in an outstanding performance in the circle for Iowa State.
Iowa State returns to the UCF Softball Complex for day two of the Knights Classic on Saturday. The Cyclones will take on Penn State at 12:30 p.m. CT, followed by another contest vs. UCF at 5 p.m.