What a difference a new coach makes.
Two years ago, Oklahoma State Softball finished their season with a 21-31 record, including 3-13 in Big 12 play. It was their second straight losing season, and third in four years.
Now fast forward two years, to Head Coach Kenny Gajewski’s second season at the helm, and the Cowgirls find themselves 33-19, 12-3 in conference play, and three wins away from a regular season conference title.
Earning their first Big 12 trophy won’t be easy; all three of those wins must come against the five-time defending conference champs (and hated in-state rivals), and sixth-ranked Sooners. OU is 44-8 on the season and 14-1 in conference play.
This Cowgirls squad is up to the task though.
The girls are hitting .307 led by defending Big 12 Player of the Year Vanessa Shippy, who is having an impressive season.
Shippy is currently in the top five in the Big 12 in many stats;
- Batting .414 (4th)
- 63 hits (3rd)
- 38 walks (2nd)
- 44 runs (4th)
- 12 doubles (5th)
- 43 RBIs (4th)
- 98 total bases (2nd)
- .526 on-base percentage (3rd)
- .645 slugging percentage (1st).
Offense will be important in this series, but it will likely come down to pitching. OSU is 20-0 when they hold opponents to two or fewer runs, and 30-5 when only allowing five or less. The Cowgirls’s pitchers boast a 3.84 average, led by Brandi Needham who is 18-6 on the season with an ERA of 2.74.
Needham’s 18 wins are the second most in the Big 12.
Add to that, the Cowgirls are good defensively, leading the Big 12 in double plays.
Granted, OU is undefeated on the road and averaging nearly 7 runs a game. The defending National Champs will be the toughest test the Cowgirls have faced this season.
However, even if they don’t sweep the Sooners (which is asking a LOT) the fact that the team is even in this position speaks highly of Gajewski, his staff, and the players on the team.
Game one of the three-game series is tonight with first pitch at 6:30 p.m. in Stillwater. If you can get out to the stadium, do so, and bring the rowdy! If you can’t make it, the game will be broadcast live on ESPNU.
The series moves to Norman Friday for a 6 p.m. first pitch. Game three will be back on Stillwater on Saturday at 4 p.m. and will be broadcast live on ESPN.
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