By Andrew Glover
STILLWATER, Okla. —
The Oklahoma State University softball team’s offensive production increased during its homestand and the Cowgirls hope it continues when they start play in the University of South Florida Invitational in Clearwater, Fla., Friday against Rutgers at 3 p.m. Central Daylight Time.
“You got to keep playing one game and one pitch at a time,” coach Rich Wieligman said. “As long as they continue to prepare as they have been preparing and doing the things we’ve been doing, we should be fine.”
The Cowgirls (14-12) enter on a seven-game winning streak, including five that had the eight-run mercy rule invoked. Oklahoma State is averaged a little less than eight runs per game while allowing no more than three runs in those contests. During the streak, the Cowgirls hit 10 home runs and 31 extra-base hits. Senior Tamara Brown, who has batted lead off since the March 2 game against Houston said the team is gaining confidence offensively.
“We did a really good job of getting runs,” Brown said. “In the beginning, we weren’t clicking. We were getting hits but they were right at them. Now, we are getting hits to fall and everyone is getting their confidence up.”
Since taking over the top spot in the Cowgirls’ lineup, Brown’s batting average has improved from .235 to .313 and has hit six doubles and scored 10 runs. Brown said she is staying more focused at the plate.
“I’m trying to work the count and make (opposing pitchers) threw all their pitches and find a good one to hit,” Brown said.
Senior starting pitcher Kat Espinosa has benefited from the Cowgirls’ improved run production, winning her last five starts. OSU has scored 38 runs in those games compared to 12 in Espinosa’s first eight. The senior said it’s easier for her to pitch with run support.
“I always believe in my teammates,” Espinosa said. “I knew they would start getting (hits) eventually. It’s nice to have their bats back. It’s a lot more pressure off me.”
Unlike the Cathedral City Classic, where the Cowgirls faced three teams ranked in the top 25, Oklahoma State only faces one team with a winning record — Robert Morris at 10-6. The Cowgirls are 8-2 against opponents with losing records. Wieligman hopes his team can build on their stretch.
“They feel really good about themselves right now,” Wieligman said. “It’s something we want to continue. The great thing is they can look back at this time when maybe they are down in a game, they can come through with it.”
Brown said this final tournament should help prepare the Cowgirls for conference play which starts March 28 against Texas Tech.
“We just got to keep doing what we are doing,” Brown said.