Stillwater News Press

April 21, 2013

Cowgirls clinch series with Kansas on clutch performance from freshmen

By Jason Elmquist

STILLWATER, Okla. — Oklahoma State got a key hit from an unlikely source to scratch out a 3-1 victory over the University of Kansas Sunday to claim the series victory at Cowgirl Softball Stadium.

With the Cowgirls in a tight contest with Kansas, freshman Dre McKee recorded her first career hit as as Cowgirl — which also resulted in her first career RBI — to give OSU a two-run cushion which pitcher Kat Espinosa was able to manage for her 15th win.

"Very clutch. I just went in there thinking 'Get your pitch and get a hit,'" McKee said. "... I haven't had many at bats, but when you're called in you have to step up and do what you can do. That's what I was able to do."

McKee wasn't the only freshman coming up with a clutch hit in the decisive fourth inning.

Freshman Tiffany Mikkelson started off things with an infield single and advanced to second on an illegal pitch. Freshman Erika Campbell knocked her in with an RBI double that gave OSU the lead back after KU had squared it up in the top half of the frame. That set up McKee, who was pinch-hitting for sophomore Shelby Davis, to get her first career hit and RBI with a double to right center.

"For Dre to step in there at that situation and be able to deliver a hit is just awesome," OSU coach Rich Wieligman said. "I'm happy for her. She did a great job."

It was all nearly for not, however.

The Jayhawks had appeared to tie the game in the top of the seventh when Ashley Newman hit a chopper in front of home with runners on first and second. The throw to first hit off Newman's back and rolled into right field, allowing two runners to come around. After the dust settled, however, the home plate umpire called Newman out for interference — as she was running inside the base path.

"We were at the bottom of their order and if we just take care of business, we'll be good. But then we walk the first two hitters and I'm like, 'Alright, here we go,'" Wieligman said. "They called her out of the base line ... and I didn't know it. But that was a big call for us, be able to get the out and have their runners back at first and second."

Espinosa still had work to do, however, after giving up an infield single to the next batter to loaded the bases with just one out. That would be the end of the threat for KU, as the senior pitcher induced back-to-back pop ups to end the game.

"Kat did her thing getting those two pop ups," Wieligman said. "Kate, starting out the inning with two walks and then being able to do what she did, that was nice. We got our composure back and that's something I don't know we've done like that in recent times."

The Cowgirls will return to Cowgirl Softball Stadium on Wednesday for a game against in-state opponent Tulsa at 7 p.m. The Golden Hurricane, who are ranked No. 23 in the nation, won an earlier matchup between the two teams, knocking off the Cowgirls 5-1 in Tulsa.