The Oklahoma State Cowgirls are headed back to the Women’s College World Series for the eighth time in program history, and the first time since 2011.
After holding off the defending national champions No. 4 Florida State to win 3-2 in the winner-take-all game in Tallahassee, FL, the Cowgirls are the first team this post season to punch their ticket to the WCWS.
With the win, No. 13 Oklahoma State is now 44-15 on the season and are now 30-0 when leading after six innings this season.
“It was a really good softball game,” said head coach Kenny Gajewski. “We knew this would take everything that we’ve got. It did. I’ve got a lot of respect for Lonni (Alameda) and her staff and those kids. The ball just went our way. Make no mistake, we earned it, we took it, we had to take it. They weren’t going to give this thing away. I knew in the last inning there it was going to take all we had. That happened to us last week too. We gave up a home run late. But that big run in the sixth (inning) for us was a crucial run. I am just so proud of these kids, these two kids. Sam (Show) came here to join us and Madi Sue (Montgomery) really got this proud tradition back. Dusted this stuff off, cleaned it off, worked her tail off, and has done it all, is great in school. She holds records that only a couple of kids in the Big 12 have. I’m so proud of our conference. We’ve been the third-rated conference my whole time here (and) for the last 12 years I think. It prepares us to play in this. We don’t have as many teams or else we’d be rated higher. It’s prepared us to be in this moment – playing (Oklahoma), Texas, Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas and Texas Tech, it’s prepared us and playing a great schedule. Just really excited for these kids, they’ve earned this. They told me they wanted to be coached like a championship team. Not everybody wants that, it’s not easy. It’s not always the easy road and it’s lonely at times. I’m just proud of what they committed to. Proud of what they accomplished and super excited for all of our fans and alumni.”
Things started slow for the Cowgirls as Florida State pitcher Meghan King retired the first six OSU batters, but the Pokes lit a fire in the third inning. Once again, Oklahoma State freshman blasted a postseason homerun to put Oklahoma State on top 1-0. Factor would finish the day going 2 for 3 with one RBI.
“I had a big talk with Chy today before we started,” coach Gajewski said about freshman Chyenne Factor. “I said ‘I need you to look at me and tell me if you want to hit or not?’ Because I didn’t like the look in her eye yesterday at all. She’s really got ice water in her veins. Yesterday when we hit early, when we took BP, her look was terrible. I didn’t coach well; I should have taken her out. She didn’t feel good. Her swing and I saw her first at-bat and I should have taken her out. I’m getting better at that. I just challenged her here today, I said ‘I don’t need anything specular, I just need good at-bats.’ She’s way beyond her years. I think these girls will tell you that. She’s had crucial hits for us, crucial at-bats all year. Man, that homerun was huge. I felt the wind come out of their sails after that first home run, just being able to strike first. That’s what they’re used to; striking first. They score a ton of runs early. We did a great job of minimizing that and Chy was a big part of that.”
Also, in the third inning, Sydney Pennington would reach base on a fielding error, and score after advancing to third on another error to put the Cowgirls up 2-0.
Senior Samantha Show got the start in the third game for the Cowgirls, her third-straight start in the Super Regional. Show started off very well for the Cowgirls, only being pulled late after a Florida State run that saw OSU’s lead cut to 2-1. On the day, Show picked up the win while going 4.1 innings pitched and allowing four hits and one earned run against 18 batters faced.
Junior Logan Simunek would come in for relief and had a stellar outing. Simunek threw 2.2 innings with just one hit, a solo homerun in the bottom of the seventh, but that wouldn’t matter as Oklahoma State held on.
“I’m the type of person where I trust what Jeff (Cottrill) is calling and whatever he’s calling is what’s needed to get the batter out,” said senior Samantha Show. “I love it. We have different off-speeds. I throw more of a changeup and she has more up movement to hers. I can’t be more proud of Logan Simunek, she’s stepped up, she’s proved herself in these couple of weeks of who she is. Coming in, in relief and just shutting teams down.”
On the opposite side of the bracket from the Cowgirls in the Super Regional, Oklahoma State will face either No. 5 Florida or No. 12 Tennessee once in Oklahoma City. The Women’s College World Series takes place May 30 – June 4.