Iowa softball falls to Iowa State marking four losses in a row in Cy-Hawk Series.
No matter the sport, when Iowa and Iowa State square off it feels like one of the biggest games of the season.
That was the case on Wednesday evening when the Cyclones' softball team traveled to Bob Pearl Field to take on the Hawkeyes for the 18th meeting between the programs in the Cy-Hawk Series.
Playing in front of a packed crowd, which included the pep band, Hawkeyes' head coach Renee Gillispie said that she hopes to make the rivalry game a regular occurrence.
"I heard that we broke a record for the largest crowd that the team has had in 10 years," Gillispie said. "I was talking to (ISU head coach) Jamie Pinkerton after the game and told him that we need to do a home-and-home series because these games draw such great crowds."
But the Cyclones were able to silence that large crowd when they took home the 7-4 win, their fourth straight victory over the Hawkeyes.
Iowa softball's early runs don't lead to usual success
So far this season when Iowa has scored first, it typically leads to wins.
Coming into this game, they were 22-4 when hanging the first run on the board and 11-0 when they scored first in the opening inning.
So, when they scored the first run of the game off an RBI single from first baseman Sammy Diaz and tacked on another after an error from the Cyclones' defense, it looked like it would be a good night for the Hawkeyes.
That excitement was stifled after Iowa was blanked over the next four innings.
Senior right fielder Nia Carter said that the team's struggles right now are all mental.
"We just need to get out of our heads," Carter said. "We are a great hitting team and are more than capable of scoring more than four runs or getting four hits. As long as we keep it positive, simple and follow our hitting coach, [Brian] Levin's plan we will be great."
Sammy Diaz provides much-needed runs
As the team has gone through its lengthy offensive slump, Sammy Diaz gave the team a big spark against Iowa State.
She went 2-for-4 at the plate with two RBI singles. Defensively, she led the team with nine putouts.
"I just go up there with the same approach every at-bat," Diaz said. "I am just trying to get hits for my team, especially my pitchers. Reassurance runs are always good for our pitchers."
Big changes in lineup lead to slight improvements to Iowa's batting
In hopes of reigniting their offense, Gillispie and her staff elected to change things around in their batting lineup.
While Carter had been the team's leadoff batter all season, she was moved to third in hopes that she would help drive in more runs.
For Carter, it was a welcome change.
"It was fun batting third," Carter said. "My approach stayed the same because, for me, it just depends on the situation. That's how I determine how I want to hit. So, I just take things one play at a time and try to get my team in a good position."
Taking her place as the leadoff batter was left fielder Brylee Klosterman.
Other notable changes included catcher Tristin Doster moving from eighth in the lineup to fourth and shortstop Tory Bennett moving from third in the lineup to sixth.
"Data analytics is pretty big in softball right now," Gillispie said. "So, we just went back and looked at how everybody was hitting depending on different scenarios. For example, we needed Nia in a spot where she was producing more RBIs and putting Brylee [Klosterman] back in that one spot helped us to put forth more runs."