By Andrew Glover
STILLWATER, Okla. —
The Oklahoma State Cowgirls softball team hopes to get more timely hits and score more runs as they start play in the Lovelace Tournament in Denton, Texas, Friday.
The Cowgirls (2-2) open with Iowa at 2 p.m. Four of Oklahoma State’s five games are against teams with winning records, including Nebraska-Omaha, which enters with a 5-0 record. Dayton is just starting its season Friday.
OSU coach Rich Wieligman said there is a lot of parity in Division I softball and this weekend’s games will be a challenge.
“North Texas, being close, we have a little bit of a rivalry,” Wieligman said. “Of course Iowa is from a big conference and we want to play well against them. Nebraska-Omaha is undefeated and put up a lot of runs last weekend. It’s going to be a good tournament for us. We just got to be ready to play.”
After Friday’s game with Iowa, Oklahoma State plays tournament host North Texas at 4:30 p.m. On Saturday, OSU plays Nebraska-Omaha at 9 a.m. and Dayton at 11:30 a.m. The Cowgirls close the tournament with a re-match with Iowa at 11 a.m. on Sunday.
The Cowgirls out-hit their opponents 34-17 in last week’s Red Desert Classic but only scored nine runs in four games. The most runs Oklahoma State scored was four in its 4-1 victory over Colorado State on Saturday.
“We did some really good things,” Wieligman said. “Kat (Espinosa) threw the ball exceptionally well. We were in every game. We didn’t get some of the timely hits we needed. We need to work on that. If we start doing that it should snowball and we will be OK.
“Once we crack that code or break the ice of getting that big hit, we will go on to score more than one run and keep that inning going and get multiple hits in that situation.”
OSU had strong production from junior designated hitter Tarah Ettinger, who batted .538 and drove in three runs during the classic. Senior first baseman Stephanie Brewer, who transferred from Arkansas, hit .417 with two doubles and scored two runs. Wieligman said he was pleased with both hitters.
“(Brewer) was aggressive and attacked the ball,” Wieligman said. “She really hit the ball hard. She had several balls that she struck hard that weren’t hits. ... We played the first day with the wind blowing in our faces. (Ettinger) hit two balls that would have been home runs on any other day. She had good at-bats and drove the ball really well.”
Oklahoma State had strong pitching. In four outings including two starts, Espinosa went 1-0 and only allowed one run on six hits while walking two and striking out 18. Junior Simeone Freeman went 1-2, earning her victory in relief. In her three outings and two starts, she allowed six runs on 11 hits, walked five and struck out 18. Defensively, OSU only had three errors last weekend.