By Andrew Glover
STILLWATER, Okla. —
During last weekend’s Mizuno Classic the Oklahoma State softball team saw an increase in power hitting. That trend continued Wednesday, as the Cowgirls hit four home runs in a 10-2 run-rule victory over the Central Arkansas Sugar Bears at Cowgirl Stadium.
“We’re coming around,” coach Rich Wieligman said. “We just need to continue what we are doing. I know they are feeling really good at the plate. ... Our girls are coming out, controlling the zone and hitting the ball well. It’s fun to see them have success like that.”
Senior leadoff hitter Tamara Brown said the offense is getting in a rhythm at the plate.
“Everyone is starting to click,” Brown said. “Everyone is doing a lot better and getting a pitch over the plate that they can drive.”
Senior Samantha Chrisman delivered the first blast for the Cowgirls (14-12), hitting the batter’s eye in center field for a two-run home run in the bottom of the first. It was Chrisman’s fourth of the season.
In the fourth, sophomore Gessenia DeLaCruz hit her first home run of the season and expanded OSU’s lead to 6-2. With two outs, junior Tarah Ettinger hit her sixth home run with a two-run shot to left. Freshman Tiffany Mikkelson followed with a two-run home run to left field, capping off a four RBI game and putting the Cowgirls in position to invoke the eight-run mercy rule.
“We had some freshmen come up with big hits,” Brown said. “We sat back on change-ups and good piece of hitting.”
Brown was key to the offense’s success as she reached base in all three plate appearances, including two doubles. Brown scored on Chrisman’s two-run home run in the first, Mikkelson’s two-run double in the third and Ettinger’s home run in the fourth.
“I’m trying to go up and be in the ‘yes mode’ and hit in timely situations,” Brown said. “All year, we’ve been getting on base but not able to get that hit to get them in. I’ve tried to be a leader and get those runs in.”
Through the first three innings, the Lady Bears couldn’t solve Oklahoma State pitcher Kat Espinosa who only allowed one hit and struck out six. It looked like Oklahoma State’s starter was going to escape the fourth unscathed but a walk and a hit batter kept the inning alive. Central Arkansas’s shortstop Lissa Avitia cashed in the Sugar Bears’ only runs of the game with a line drive double to left. Espinosa said her teammates deserved a lot of credit.
“I had all the confidence in the world in my teammates and I knew they would pull through,” Espinosa said.
Wieligman said his team’s success hitting seemed to carry over on defense and in the circle.
“It’s a lot easier to pitch, knowing your team is going to score runs,” Wieligman said. “It’s a lot easier to hit when you know your pitcher is going to hold the other team down. It’s working hand-in-hand.”
The Cowgirls have won seven straight and start play in the South Florida Invitational in Clearwater, Fla., against Rutgers at 3 p.m. Friday.