Kyra Anderson hoped she and Katie Riesselman would have a perfect ending to their final game at Ames High Softball Field.

Anderson stepped to the plate to lead off the seventh inning with her team trailing rival Gilbert 4-1, then hit a huge home run over the left-field fence to get Ames back in the game.

Riesselman followed in the next at bat with a shot to center field, but the ball was caught by Gilbert center fielder Adalyn Gauck.

“Before I went up, I told Ries we had to go back-to-back in our last at-bats on the field,” Anderson said. “I really thought we were going to make it.”

Ames went on to lose the game, finishing the regular season with a 22-17 record and an Iowa Alliance Conference North Division championship. Anderson and Riesselman will try to go back-to-back on Saturday when the Little Cyclones take on Sioux City North in the Class 5A Region 1 semifinals.

“They probably have a little more fire under their bellies,” Ames coach Meghan Von Behren said. “I think that’s how they’re going to lead us into the postseason.”

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Anderson and Riesselman have been playing together since they were about 4 years old. They both joined the Ames softball team as eighth-graders, former coach Gary Gorman’s final season in charge of the program.

Ames went 9-12 during a 2020 season shortened by the COVID-19 pandemic. Anderson said she and Riesselman weren’t originally supposed to play on the varsity team that year, but they ended up getting a spot in the dugout.

Riesselman hit .368 with six doubles and eight RBIs in 2020. Anderson hit .278 with three doubles and eight RBIs.

Since then they have been a permanent fixture in the line-up.

“They’ve been with us for five years,” Von Behren said. “They were eighth graders my last year as an assistant and freshmen my first year (as head coach). They know what I expect and they’ve been great leaders.”

Anderson has played catcher for most of her varsity career, while Riesselman has played third base.

Together they form a formidable duo in defense.

“We always look at each other and we know we’re going to get the girl on third,” Anderson said. “That’s always pretty cool.”

Anderson has thrown out nine runners and has committed just one error behind the plate this season. Riesselman has 48 assists and 44 putouts in 101 chances at third base.

“Kyra’s got her arm, and Ries always puts her tag down,” Ames pitcher Sydney Smalley said. “They’re just the dream team.”

The senior duo also scored twice in a row this season.

Anderson is hitting .342 with 14 doubles, four homers and 21 RBIs from fifth in the order. Riesselman is hitting sixth and she is hitting .286 with seven doubles, two homers and 15 RBIs.

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They have built a close bond during their time together with the Little Cyclones. Riesselman said that when things are going well, or when she is having a hard time, she always goes to Anderson.

Riesselman specifically pointed to a game during her freshman year where she struggled. Riesselman struck out and went straight to Anderson in the dugout.

“I was crying after my at-bat,” Riesselman said. “I pushed everyone aside and gave her a big hug.”

The two seniors have been rocks for Von Behren during her first four years as coach of the Little Cyclones. Since their eighth-grade season, Ames has gone 20-20, 22-19, 23-17 before winning the IAC North for the first time this season.

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They have polar opposite personalities — Riesselman is a quiet leader and Anderson wears her emotions on her sleeve. But together, they are the perfect leaders for the Little Cyclones.

“They have a special friendship,” Von Behren said. “I’m just glad we had them for all five years.”

Ames has reached the regional finals the past two seasons. The Little Cyclones will look to rebound from their loss to Gilbert and take on Sioux City North on Saturday. A win would put the team just one game away from a trip to the state tournament.

Anderson and Riesselman said they’d love to come through the region and punch Ames’ ticket to state for the first time ever. If that happens, there’s a chance Riesselman will push everyone aside to embrace Anderson again.

“I probably will,” Riesselman said. “I’ll probably cry, too. But that would be awesome.”

Joe Randleman covers high school sports for the Ames Tribune. Contact him at [email protected]Follow him on Twitter at @JoeRandleman