Iowa State head softball coach Stacy Gemeinhardt-Cesler enters her 11th season as the Cyclone head coach in the 2016 season. Gemeinhardt-Cesler, who has a 222-287-1 record in her first 10 years in the program, has led an offensive golden era at Iowa State during her tenure, with the last three seasons in particular boasting some historic offensive numbers.
Gemeninhardt-Cesler has overseen the growth of one of the top players in program history in Brittany Gomez, who became ISU’s all-time hits leader in just three years. A three-time All-Big 12 outfielder, Gemeinhardt-Cesler has led Gomez to becoming ISU’s all-time leader in hits, runs, stolen bases and batting average. In 2015, Gomez became the first Cyclone in 36 years to hit over .400 in a season.
The 2014 season saw the Cyclones finish the season with a .325 batting average, shattering the previous record of .288 set the previous season and the 11th-best in the NCAA. The Cyclones had six starters who hit over .330, with Gomez leading the way at .397, the third-highest mark in school history. Catcher Rachel Hartman was second on the team at .378, the sixth-highest in ISU history and the best by a Cyclone freshman.
Iowa State also took down one of its older hitting records with 476 hits in 2014, breaking the previous record of 429 in 1988. Six Cyclones finished the season with at least 50 hits, the previous most in school history being four in a season. Gomez (75 hits) and Sarah Hawryluk (60 hits) became the first teammates in school history to finish a campaign with 60 hits apiece.
The Cyclones also set team records for slugging percentage (.460), on-base percentage (.391) and doubles (79) under Gemeinhardt-Cesler’s watch.
The 2014 offensive output was an encore to the record-breaking in 2013, when Iowa State established still-standing program records in runs (284), home runs (40), RBIs (253), walks (166) and stolen bases (89 steals and 101 attempts). Defensively, the Cyclones turned 29 double plays, fourth most in the country and another school record while setting a record in fielding percentage.
Gemeinhardt-Cesler’s work with Gomez has seen her rise among the Cyclone greats after just two seasons in Ames. Gomez has already amassed two of the three highest single-season marks in school history for both hits and stolen bases. Her school-record 31 swipes in 2013 and 24 in 2014 already have Gomez as ISU’s school record holder for career stolen bases. In 2014, Gomez and teammate Aly Cappaert became the first Cyclones since 1999 to be named to an NFCA All-Region First Team.
Gomez and Hawryluk were named to the All-Big 12 Second Team in 2014, meaning that each of Gemeinhardt-Cesler’s nine seasons at Iowa State featured at least one position player making an All-Big 12 squad.
Two of the finest to come through Iowa State were Erica Miller and Tori Torrescano. Miller drove in 52 runs on the year to finish her career with 149 RBI, both Iowa State records. On the last day of the season, Torrescano tied her own record, hitting her 14th home run of the season against Kansas and is the only Cyclone to ever slug above .600 in a career, ending with a .615 slugging clip. Both players walked 29 times, another Iowa State record, during the season.
In 2012, Miller was named to the All-Big 12 First Team for leading the Cyclones with a .362 batting average and was named to the NFCA All-Midwest Region Second Team and College Sports Madness’ First Team. Torrescano set program marks with 14 home runs and 44 RBI and was named to the College Sports Madness All-Big 12 Second Team.
In 2011, Gemeinhardt-Cesler guided the Cyclones to two wins over ranked teams in No. 17 Oklahoma State and No. 17 Baylor. It marked the first time since 2006 that the squad beat two ranked opponents in the same season.
The Cyclones’ offense set or tied six school records during the season despite playing only 49 games, the shortest season since 2004. Iowa State batted .270 for the season, second all-time behind the 2010 standard of .275, while setting records for slugging (.408), on-base percentage (.353) and runs scored (225). The squad tied the 2010 record for RBIs with 196.
On the mound, senior Rachel Zabriskie closed out her Cyclone career with Iowa State records in appearances (171), games started (138), complete games (87) innings pitched (884.2), strikeouts (815), wins (67) and saves (seven), making her Gemeinhardt-Cesler’s most prolific recruit. Zabriskie is also one of the top pitchers in Big 12 history, ranked in the top 10 in innings pitched (ninth), appearances (ninth) and strikeouts (10th).
As a sophomore in 2010, Zabriskie collected an Iowa State-best 255 strikeouts in 227.2 innings pitched, a Cyclone-record 7.84 strikeouts per seven innings. Zabriskie finished the season with a school-record 20 wins, the third-straight year she broke the record for wins.
In 2009, Iowa State finished 26-29 overall and won a school-record seven games in Big 12 play. After starting slow in league action, Iowa State was the second-best team in the Big 12 over the final half of the season, going 6-3 to finish 7-11. The Cyclones advanced to the second round of the Big 12 Championships in back-to-back seasons for the first time in school history.
Gemeinhardt-Cesler coached Iowa State to an 18-4 mark in 2008 before missing the season's final 36 games while taking maternity leave. The Cyclones finished 29-29 on the season, the most wins by the school since 1989 and the first time it finished .500 or better since 1995. The Cyclones set a school record for home runs with 38 for the year.
In Gemeinhardt-Cesler's second season, the coach's philosophy of blending speed and power began to take shape on the field as Iowa State nearly doubled its stolen base numbers from the previous year with 63 steals. The improved speed didn't hinder their power as the Cyclones hit 24 homers, the most since 2002.
In her first season in Ames, Iowa State showed improvement in nearly every hitting category, including a jump in batting average from just .208 in 2005 to .250 in 2006, the highest team batting average since 2002.
The Cyclones' first season under Gemeinhardt-Cesler included wins over No. 15 Texas A&M, No. 16 Nebraska and No. 22 Oklahoma in consecutive Big 12 series. Against the Aggies, Iowa State showed off its improved offense, pounding out a Big 12 school-record 14 runs in the six-inning win.
Gemeinhardt-Cesler has also seen her Cyclones succeed in the classroom, with Iowa State attaining a combined 70 Academic All-Big 12 honorees.
A two-time Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association Coach of the Year selection at Division II Emporia State, Gemeinhardt-Cesler compiled a 153-76 record (.668) in just four seasons at ESU. Hired as a graduate assistant coach in August 2001, Gemeinhardt-Cesler took over the Hornet program in November following the retirement of Jo Kord.
The Hornet record book was rewritten during Gemeinhardt-Cesler's tenure, including the school marks for wins, home runs, runs scored, stolen bases and shutouts. Her players set the single-season mark for strikeouts, hits, doubles, RBI and stolen bases. Pitcher Melissa Stevens was named the league's 2005 MVP and earned NFCA All-America honors. She was tabbed the MIAA Freshman of the Year in Gemeinhardt-Cesler's second season.
Gemeinhardt-Cesler, a two-time all-conference performer at Missouri, began her coaching career as a student assistant at her alma mater, spending one season on the Tiger bench. The outfielder was a two-time team MVP for Missouri and earned all-region honors three times. A three-time Big 12 Conference all-tournament selection, Gemeinhardt-Cesler also earned NSCA and ASA All-America recognition, as well as academic All-America honors from the National Fastpitch Coaches Association. She finished her career ranked among the top 10 in nine career statistical categories, helping the Tigers make two NCAA regional appearances and earn the 1997 Big 12 Conference regular-season and tournament championships. Gemeinhardt-Cesler earned a bachelor's degree in social work from Missouri in 2001 and a master's of business administration from Emporia State in 2004.
Gemeinhardt-Cesler and her husband, Jeff Cesler, reside in Ames with their twin boys, Jakoby and Korbin.