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March 15, 2014

Cowgirls sweep doubleheader from New Mexico

STILLWATER, Okla. — Oklahoma State softball swept its opening doubleheader Friday against New Mexico in the Cowgirl Classic.

The Cowgirls got a pair of solid pitching performances from the starters to clinch a 6-3 win in Game 1 and a 5-0 victory in the nightcap.

“It’s hard to complain about a sweep of a doubleheader,” Cowgirl coach Rich Wieligman said.

In the first game, senior starting pitcher Simone Freeman locked down the Lady Lobos at the plate. New Mexico was held to just three hits during Freeman’s six innings — with UNM getting its three runs off three hits against relief pitcher Peyton Walker in the seventh. Freeman had 10 strikeouts and just two walks in her time in the circle.

“Sim starts it off and does a great job. We’re sort of getting use to it, we’re really getting use to seeing what she does day in and day out,” the Cowgirl coach said. “Being a senior, she’s done a really good job of leading us in that way.”

The Cowgirl offense gave Freeman plenty of run support, getting two runs in the first inning to set the tone. OSU put up another pair of runs in the fourth and fifth inning to put distance on New Mexico.

The OSU offense was slowed early in the second game, though the Cowgirls did muster 10 hits — and stranded 13 base runners.

The Cowgirls finally broke the game open in the fifth inning with Gessenia DeLaCruz coming up with a second hit of the contest that led to a run, and the Lady Lobos committing a pair of errors in a four-run rally for OSU.

“I was just seeing the ball really well today,” DeLaCruz said. “It wasn’t anything special. She was pitching a little outside and that’s what I’ve been hitting right now, so I just thought, ‘why not swing at it?’”

Lively, who started her first game as a Cowgirl, gave up just one hit in five innings of work and matched Freeman in strikeout total with 10.

With the lead pushed out to five, Wieligman went back to Freeman to close out the final two innings in the circle. Despite putting several runners aboard, Freeman clinched the shutout for the Cowgirls.

“(Lively) was injured earlier in the year, so we’ve been working her back and she’s been throwing really well in the last week in practice,” Wieligman said. “... She hadn’t gone five innings before and we could tell she was starting to slow down. So when you have Sim sitting there, why not? Let’s just make sure we win the game.”

The compliment of offense and pitching came at a perfect time for the Cowgirls, as they will face a tough test the remainder of the weekend. Oklahoma State is scheduled to face No. 14 South Alabama Saturday and Sunday — with Saturday’s game now slated for approximately 1 p.m. with all games moving up two hours due to the threat of rain.

“South Alabama is real good. They have probably two of the best pitchers in the country,” Wieligman said. “So we’ve got to be ready for them and play well to beat them.

“I feel like we’re swinging the bats well and I just like their approach at the plate, it was really good. So let’s just keep it right there and keep getting better.”

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