By Merrick Eagleton
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Home runs weren’t enough to seal the deal for the Oklahoma State softball team, as the Cowgirls fell 9-7 in the second game of their home series against the Kansas Jayhawks.
The Cowgirls (25-21, 3-8 Big 12) started out strong, taking the lead in the second inning with a two-run home run to left field by freshman Tiffany Mikkelson, bringing in senior Samantha Chrisman, who had hit a double to reach base.
OSU increased its lead in the third inning with another home run hit to left, this time by Chrisman. Chrisman’s home run also scored junior Tarah Ettinger, who got on with a base hit to center field.
Kansas (27-12, 4-4) got its first run in the third on a home run to left by Alex Hugo. KU scratched another run across in the fourth on a single by Chaley Brickey that plated Chanin Naudin, who reached on a leadoff double.
But the Jayhawks really began their comeback in the fifth inning by putting two runners on base. Ashley Newman had a base hit and Alex Jones was hit by a pitch. A sacrifice bunt by Cassen Salamone advanced the Jayhawk runners to second and third base and a home run to center by Hugo added three runs to the board, giving Kansas its first lead of the game, 5-4.
OSU coach Rich Wieligman said the team’s struggle this year has been not being able to put a game together completely with the pitching and hitting, especially in conference games.
“We let them get ahead,” Wieligman said. “We walk a batter, we give them free bases and then we give up a big hit and the next thing you know it’s a different game. It’s one inning, two innings here and (we) haven’t been able to put a game together.”
Senior Kat Espinosa started in the circle and was relieved by junior Simone Freeman after the fifth, but this didn’t slow down the Kansas offense.
KU jumped ahead with another four runs in the top of the sixth. Three of the hits didn’t leave the infield, and ground balls through the infield — combined with several mistakes of the Cowgirls’ defense — put the Jayhawks up by four runs.
“I don’t know, you could say that we messed up but when they’re getting their hits on the infield like that it’s definitely balls bouncing their way,” Wieligman said. “You know, we need to overcome that. And then we compounded things by maybe walking a hitter or hitting somebody and then giving up a big hit.”
With two outs for OSU in the seventh inning Ettinger hit a three-run home run to left, closing the gap for the Cowgirls. However, a strikeout by Mikkelson ended the game.
“You know we hit the ball, we scored seven runs — granted there were three of them at the end of the game, but you know I love our kids’ fight,” Wieligman said. “I like how they fought back there.”
The Cowgirls will face Kansas again at noon Sunday in the final game of the series.