By Jason Elmquist
STILLWATER, Okla. —
For much of the season the pitching staff for the Oklahoma State softball squad has been the foundation for eclipsing 20 wins on the year — and already have the Cowgirls one win shy of last year’s 25 victories with 14 games remaining.
But this past weekend, the pitching hit a rough patch which resulted in OSU suffering a series sweep against Iowa State — the first of the season for the Cowgirls.
“It was a tough weekend. We couldn’t make the pitches we needed to,” OSU coach Rich Wieligman said. “The ball just got up in the zone. The ball was up in the zone this weekend and we didn’t make the pitches when needed to.”
While pitchers Kat Espinosa and Simone Freeman just didn’t have their best stuff against the Cyclones, Oklahoma State (24-17, 2-4 Big 12) still kept the series competitive thanks to the offense — something that couldn’t have been said for the better part of the year.
OSU’s pitchers gave up 28 runs in the three-game series, but the offense kept pace with 21 as each game was decided by three runs or less.
“We fought, and even our pitchers fought hard — they were fighting an uphill battle with circumstances and I liked how they fought,” Wieligman said. “It’s important that they never gave up and we had a chance in every game. ... I like how they competed, we just didn’t do a very good job defensively (with nine errors in the series). Pitching and defense works together hand-in-hand and they weren’t this weekend.”
Though the Cowgirls are a relatively young squad — featuring two freshmen and two sophomores in the starting lineup — with soft-spoken leaders, Wieligman isn’t too concerned about how his players will respond from the weekend’s sweep.
“I think we’re fine. They are upset. They don’t like to lose,” the OSU coach said. “You can be as quiet as you want, but if you don’t like to lose and accept challenges then we’re fine. And they’ve been this way all year. They know what they need to do and they haven’t backed off.”
Wieligman stressed Tuesday afternoon the importance of getting back on the field for the players to get the bad taste out of their mouths from the trip to Ames, Iowa. However, that may be delayed with inclement weather expected in the area for Wednesday’s home game against Wichita State, which is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Cowgirl Softball Stadium.
“I really want to play (Wednesday). We need to play,” Wieligman said. “We need to get these games in ... and Oklahoma weather permitting, we’ll be playing.”
Oklahoma State will return to Big 12 Conference play with another road trip, this time to Waco, Texas, to take on No. 20 Baylor, which was just swept by No. 1 Oklahoma this past weekend.
“Baylor’s going to pitch it well — I think that’s what stands out with them right now,” Wieligman said. “They have one of the best left-handers (Whitney Canion) in the country — probably No. 2 behind (Oklahoma’s Keilani) Ricketts.
“You’ve got to go through Canion (who is 15-15 with a 1.69 ERA) to beat Baylor and we’ve had success previously against them by doing what we do — which you need to pitch it well and play defense and scratch those runs across when you can.”