AMES, Iowa – Iowa State softball (10-10, 0-0 Big 12) heads out on its longest road trip of the season this weekend, heading to Florida for a three-city, 10-day stint that kicks off at the Tournament at Clearwater, hosted by South Florida.
The Cyclones are scheduled to play five games at the Clearwater tournament against teams from South Florida, Liberty, Valparaiso, Rutgers and Temple. Iowa State and Rutgers met earlier this season at the UTSA Classic, with the Cyclones coming away with the 3-2 victory.
Against the Scarlet Knights, Tori Torrescano threw a complete game, allowing two earned runs, walking none and fanning four batters. Torrescano, who is coming off a .615 hitting spree last weekend, was the only hitter from Iowa State with more than one hit off Rutgers’ starter Abbey Houston, who took the loss despite not giving up an earned run.
Torrescano will have a chance to continue her success against Valparaiso as well when the teams play on Saturday. The Cyclones and Crusaders have played four times in the last two seasons, and Torrescano has led the charge, combining for a .462 average and nine RBI in the previous contests. Valpo does not return starter Sam McGee who was the winning pitcher in each of the meetings last season. Brittany Duncan, who had four RBI in Valpo’s 11-5 win in Ames in 2012, is hitting .426 this season with 20 hits, four doubles and two home runs.
Iowa State’s first opponent of the weekend is Liberty, who is 8-8 overall but just 2-6 in neutral site games. Sammi Shivock powers the Flame offense with .400 hitting which includes 20 hits, five doubles and a team-high 14 RBI. The Cyclones will have to keep an eye on Katie Zavodny on the bases, as she has stolen 17 bases already this season and is likely to get on base, as she leads the club with 22 hits.
The hosting South Florida Bulls are 13-5 at home this season and count No. 10 Michigan in the win column. The Bulls have played a tough early season schedule that includes losses to No. 4 Tennessee, No. 4 Florida and No. 17 Kentucky however, Stephanie Medina has not faltered, hitting .339 with 21 hits. Hurler Sara Nevins has been pegged for some of the early season losses, despite an ERA of 1.30 and tallying 72 strikeouts in 64 and two-thirds innings of work.
Closing out the weekend against Temple, Iowa State batters may count on patience at the plate to help them out against Brooklin White, who has walked 24 batters in 26 and two-thirds innings this season. White and fellow Owls starter Jessica Mahoney have ERAs of 7.88 and 8.54, respectively. Iowa State pitchers can expect trouble from Annie Marcopolus, who is hitting .407 this season, but has just one extra-base hit, allowing opponents to narrow her scoring chances by getting outs from hitters following her in the order.
Liberty, USF and Valparaiso each have midweek games before the start of the weekend tournament.
Iowa State’s run at the Tournament at Clearwater gets started on March 15 with a 10:45 a.m. CST game against Liberty, followed by a meeting with USF at 3:30 p.m.