The Ames softball team is off to its best start in years. Ireland Buss is a big reason why

Joe Randleman
Ames Tribune

The Ames softball team loves to do a cheer every time Ireland Buss goes up to bat.

When Buss walks up to the batter's box the Little Cyclones start chanting "IB 3! IB 3!" in reference to her initials and jersey number. 

So far in 2022 Buss is earning those cheers. And then some.

“She’s tearing the cover off of the ball," Ames pitcher Alexa Kopaska said. "It’s fun to watch.”

Buss started the season hitless in Ames' first two games. That was understandable after coming right off an amazing track season in which she helped the Little Cyclones win a state title in the Class 4A girls 4x200-meter relay.

But since then she's been on a tear as the No. 3 hitter in the batting order.

“When she steps up to the plate we’re super-confident we’re going to move those runners, or score the runners,” Ames head coach Meghan Von Behren said. “She’s hitting the ball like crazy and we’ve just gotta keep rolling with it.” 

Ireland Buss is hitting over .450 with four home runs in just 15 games so far for the Ames softball team. The Little Cyclones are 11-4 and ranked 11th in Class 5A.

Buss is hitting .467 with four home runs and 12 RBIs. She also has two doubles and one triple.

“We focus a lot on hitting,” Von Behren said. “It’s definitely a priority for us to be able to hit the ball like that.”

During Thursday's 12-0 victory over Nevada in three innings Buss ended the game on account of the mercy rule in the bottom of the third inning with an RBI hit off the fence in right field. She hit an RBI single in her first at-bat and also drove in a run on a fielder's choice. 

Buss hit her first home runs of the season at the Ballard-North Polk tournament June 3. She belted a solo shot in a 9-1 victory over North Polk then hit two dingers during an 8-5 victory over Clarke at Alleman.

Buss's fourth home run came June 7 in a 6-2 victory over Waukee. She's on pace to easily surpass her 2021 home total of seven.

“I do credit a lot to the weight room,” Buss said. “That definitely helps me get those extra bases. But if you hit the ball right it’s going to go far.” 

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But the long ball isn't all Buss has going for her. 

In addition to her outstanding batting average Buss is a perfect 10-for-10 in steals on the season. She has also scored 18 runs.

“They’re good tools to have in my toolbox,” Buss said. “It’s good to know that if my hitting is not there one day maybe I can lay down an extra bunt or something to get on base.” 

In addition to her tremendous power and ability to make contact with the bat Ireland Buss is also having a great season on the base paths for Ames. She has 18 runs and 10 steals on the season.

Her tremendous athletic talent has earned a lot of admiration from her teammates.

“It’s really fun coming off a state (track) championship with her to come play another sport with her,” Ellie Lynch said. “She’s easy to cheer on.” 

But Buss is the first to admit she's not the only one delivering the goods on offense for Ames this season.

“Ellie’s having just as good of a season,” Buss said. “I struggled at the beginning of the season. I just had to figure it out. But Ellie’s had it figured out since the beginning of the season.” 

Lynch entered the Nevada game hitting .512 with 16 runs, 15 steals, 10 RBIs and two home runs. Katie Riesselman was hitting .439 with two home runs and 12 RBIs, Kaylee Mescher .341 with 12 runs and nine RBIs, Nora Morken .333 with a home run and seven RBIs and Olivia Smalley .295 with six doubles and seven RBIs.

“It makes my job really easy,” Kopaska said. “I didn’t have the year last year I wanted, but our offense took care of games for me. They’re doing the same thing this year.” 

As a team Ames has scored 104 runs, an average of 6.9 per game. Entering the Nevada game the Little Cyclones were hitting .313 as a unit.

"When one is down usually everyone else is up, so it doesn’t hurt us," Von Behren said. "A lot of times they string it all together.”

That is a big reason why Ames is 11-4 and ranked 11th in 5A.

The Little Cyclones picked up their biggest victory of the season Wednesday with a 1-0 upset of defending 5A state champion and then second-ranked Fort Dodge in the first game of a doubleheader. Kopaska threw a brilliant five-hitter as the winning pitcher.

“Lex was dialed in and our defense really helped us out,” Von Behren said. “It was an all-around team effort for sure. We were pretty stoked.” 

Buss was again the offensive hero against Fort Dodge by going 2-for-3 and scoring the game's only run off an RBI double from Riesselman. If she keeps up her hot play and her teammates continue to excel the Little Cyclones have a chance to reach state for the first time in school history.

“We’ve got lofty goals this year,” Von Behren said. “We’ve just got to take it one game at a time and take care of business every night.”