Stillwater News Press

OSU Sports

April 17, 2014

Cowgirl softball blasts Baylor

STILLWATER, Okla. — Rich Wieligman has been waiting for that moment when his Oklahoma State softball team would break through against the country’s top competition.

His team finally showed him what he’s been believing all season, fighting off a last-inning rally from No. 14 Baylor to clinch a 2-1 victory at the Cowgirl Softball Stadium

“We clutched up and came through,” Wieligman said. “That's a big win. A huge win.”

The Cowgirls, who improved to 2-6 against ranked opponents, got one of the best performances of the season from senior pitcher Simone Freeman — who gave up just two hits through the first six innings of the contest and improved to 19-10 on the year.

“When you're going against (Whitney) Canion and they pitchers that they have, it’s obvious that you aren't going to score a lot of runs. So our pitchers have got to be on their game and (Freeman) she answered the bell great,” the Cowgirl coach said. “She did a great job. To shut them out for that long and ultimately give up just one run, hats off to her for what she did tonight.”

Freeman benefited from early run production — something OSU hasn't had much of this season — by scratching across a run in the bottom of the first. It was only the ninth time this year that the Cowgirls scored in the first inning of 30 games in which Freeman started in the circle.

“It was really comforting. Knowing that we already had a run, we knew we were in for a good game,” Freeman said. “It was just really comforting.”

The Cowgirls (24-18, 4-7 in Big 12) scored that first run of the game without even collecting a hit.

Leadoff batter Shelby Davis was hit by a pitch and stole her 37th base of the season, which set up Ari Morrison for a sacrifice bunt to advance Davis to third. Davis, a junior from Goddard, Kan., scored from third on a fielder's choice by Muskogee native Danielle Riddle.

“I’ve been beating into their heads about quality at bats — it doesn't have to be a base hit, it just has to be a quality at bat,” Wieligman said. “... Nobody got a hit, but everybody had a good, quality at bat. That’s why we get the run in.”

Oklahoma State got an insurance run — that proved important — in the bottom of the fifth with a leadoff home run by Tarah Ettinger on a full count, in which she was down 0-2 and battled back to get the blast on the seventh pitch of the at bat.

“I just kind of got mad and it just gets to a point where you’re like, ‘I’m going to do it this time,’” Ettinger said. “The last couple of at bats I hadn’t been too happy with them and I just went up there and said, ‘This is it. So let's go.’ I laid off the pitches I had to and really got into fight mode, that's for sure.”

The 14th-ranked Bears (30-10, 4-4) attempted to mount a comeback in the seventh inning, finally showing signs of life against Freeman.

Baylor got its run across on a wild pitch strikeout by Freeman that allowed the batter to reach first and the runner on third to come home — putting runners on the corners with just one out in the top of the seventh. The Bears loaded the bases on an infield single for the heart of the lineup.

But Wieligman stuck with his senior ace to close out the contest — a decision he went against a week earlier in a 6-5 loss at Texas Tech in which the Red Raiders scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh.

“I made the mistake last Friday, so I wasn’t doing that again,” Wieligman said. “I told her it’s her game and she wants the ball and deserves the ball. She fought through it and that’s why she’s out there, because she shows that she can get through it.”

Freeman got Ari Hawkins, who came into the game with a .347 batting average, to strikeout and set up a bases-loaded, two-out situation with Baylor’s RBI leader Clare Hosack at the plate. After three straight balls, Freeman worked her way back to a full count and forced Hosack to fly out to Davis in left center.

“I know I can do it, it was just a matter of him trusting me. I know it might get messy out there, but in the end, I know I can do it,” Freeman said.

The three-game series with Baylor will continue Friday with a 6 p.m. first pitch.

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