CHARLESTON, S.C. – The Iowa State softball team went 2-0 on the opening day of the Holy City Showdown, defeating Marshall (8-4), 1-0, and Radford (5-3), 2-1. Senior Sydney Stites scored all three of Iowa State’s runs on the day, tallying a triple and a home run.
Iowa State 1, Marshall 0
Starting pitcher Savannah Sanders was dominant in game one of the day, notching a complete game shutout while surrendering just one hit. The senior from Mt. Juliet, Tenn., rang up a season-high seven strikeouts in the seven-inning outing.
It was a true pitchers’ duel at Patriots Point Athletics Complex, as the Cyclones struggled to get their offense rolling against Thundering Herd ace Abigail Tolbert. Tolbert, who entered Friday’s contest touting a 5-2 record on the season, gave up just one hit on the day.
Sydney Stites keyed Iowa State’s lone run in the home half of the first inning. Stites roped a one-out triple to right field, just beyond the outstretched arm of Marshall’s Mya Stevenson. Stites raced to third for her first triple of the season and the eighth of her career.
Taylor Nearad then stepped to the plate in the three-hole of Iowa State’s lineup and notched the game’s lone RBI on a sacrifice fly. Nearad’s fly ball to left had enough distance to allow Stites to race home from third, giving Iowa State a 1-0 lead.
Sanders, backed by a terrific defensive effort, left Marshall’s batters befuddled all game. The senior’s seven strikeouts were her most since March 26, 2017 (9, vs. Texas Tech).
Iowa State 2, Radford 1
Stites got the Cyclones off to a good start once again, opening the game with a solo home run to take an early lead. The native of Bozeman, Mont., batting in the two-hole, stepped into the batter’s box with one out and sent a shot deep over the fence in center field. It was Stites’ team-leading second homer of the season.
The Highlanders responded in the home half of the second. Brooke Bond opened the frame with a lead-off walk, and was eventually moved over to third on a base hit to center field by Maggie Rowe. Hunter Bundy was then credited with an RBI on a bunt, as Bond raced home and was safe on a play at the plate.
Senior Emma Hylen, who got the start in the circle in game two, locked up Radford’s offense from that point forward. Hylen held the Highlanders scoreless over the next six innings, allowing just five hits total with seven strikeouts in 8.0 innings of work.
Iowa State scored the game-winning run in the top of the eighth. Stites started the frame on second base, via the international tiebreaker rule, and was moved over to third on a sacrifice bunt by Nearad. Sally Woolpert then collected an RBI on a grounder to second base, scoring Stites from third to put ISU ahead 2-1.
The Cyclone defense locked down once more in the home half of the eighth to prevent a tying run to improve to 2-0 on the day.
The Holy City Showdown continues on Saturday, when Iowa State returns to Patriots Point Athletics Complex to take on Appalachian State. The Cyclones will take on the Mountaineers at 4:45 p.m. CT.