—Messenger photo by Britt Kudla Iowa Central’s Cheyenne Andersen connects for a two-run homer against Iowa Lakes at Rogers Park.

Cheyenne Andersen was what you might call a late bloomer on the softball field.

While she saw action as a sophomore and junior at Indianola, Andersen didn’t have her coming out party until her final season of high school.

The current Iowa Central sophomore has only grown under the guidance of Rick Sandquist and his coaching staff since, and has the chance to leave her mark permanently on the program.

Andersen is nearing both the single-season and career records for home runs hit, sitting at 14 on the year and 29 overall.

“In high school, I didn’t reach my peak until my senior year,” Andersen said. “That’s when everything started to flow for me and eventually led me to Iowa Central.”

But even that road was a twisted one, as Andersen originally planned to attend ICCAC rival North Iowa Area.

“I committed to NIACC, but the coach was let go and I no longer wanted to be there,” she said. “I knew a girl that was going to Iowa Central so I got into contact with her and eventually talked to the coaches.

“I ended up coming here which was the best decision that I made.”

The centerfielder hit 15 homers last year and is just six behind the mark set by both NiCole Dobernecker and Makayla Burt. Former Fort Dodge Senior High standout Megan Risetter holds the career record at 31, which is also within Andersen’s grasp.

As a freshman, Andersen drove in 57 runs and scored 57 times, adding 22 steals. Through 33 games this season, she has 39 RBI, 48 runs and 14 steals for the No. 9 Tritons, who are scheduled to play four games this weekend.

“Last year was fun and all, but I learned that I needed to make bigger goals for myself and try to reach those,” Andersen said. “But at the same time, I just want to be the best player I can be for my team.”

With the inclusion of her 11 high school home runs, Andersen has 40 trips around the bases. Yet, the thrill of each one never gets old — and neither does the momentum created by such a hit.

“Hitting a home run is fun, but nowadays, the ones that really matter are when people are on base or we are losing,” Andersen said. “Just that one hit can bring the entire team back up.

“And running to home with all your teammates about to trample you is the best part.”

Andersen ranks second in NJCAA Div. II in homers and total bases (108), fourth in slugging percentage (1.000), seventh in runs and 11th in triples (four) and RBI.

Iowa Central is 24-9 on the year and have rebounded from a three-game slide to win three of its last five overall. They are at Iowa Lakes on Saturday and host Southwestern on Sunday at Rogers Park.

“This team has so much fight and I’m so excited for the rest of the season,” she said. “We want to show people what we accomplished in Florida is who we are and we will continue to fight throughout the rest of the year.”