By Tim Ahrens
Stillwater News Press
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Close games have been Oklahoma State’s weakness all season, and that continued Saturday in a home contest against No. 13 Oklahoma on Senior Day.
The Cowgirls battled back late in the game to come within striking distance, and actually came close to winning it with pitcher Simone Freeman at the plate and a runner on first.
With the count at three balls and one strike, Freeman made contact and sent the ball high in the air toward left field.
All day the wind had been blowing into left. But the wind wasn’t quite there, and left fielder Paris Townsend was there to make the catch near the wall and seal a 5-4 victory for the Sooners.
The loss looked all too familiar for coach Rich Wieligman and OSU (26-27, 5-12). The Cowgirls are now 3-9 in games decided by two runs or less against teams in the RPI top-30.
“You get a little bit more on the ball and it’s gone,” Wieligman said. “We’ve been close all year; they’ve got to understand how proud I am of how they played.
“I loved how loud the fans were, I thought it was a good day. Unfortunately we didn’t come up with the last swing of the bat when we needed it.”
For OU (44-10, 15-2), the day was historic. The Bedlam victory gave OU this year’s Bedlam Cup, improving the Sooners’ record to 78-70 against OSU. It also gave OU its third-straight outright Big 12 title, the first time any team in the conference has done so.
“When it matters, they’re always there,” OU coach Patty Gasso said. “That’s the sign of a championship team, and it’s always somebody different. Their performance in the Big 12 has been stellar.
“With a lot of inexperienced players and new faces, it’s been really something I’ll always remember.”
The Sooners struck early in the second with all five of their runs. Third baseman Tiffany Mikkelson, who later left the game with an injury to her left ankle, rifled a ball to first in an attempt to throw out Sooner Destinee Martinez.
But the throw was way off, and Whitney Ellis advanced to third on the error. On the very next pitch, Javen Henson laid down a successful squeeze bunt that scored Ellis and was safe on the throw to first.
Two batters later, Townsend hit an RBI-single to load the bases and extend OU’s lead to two runs. After walking a run in, Freeman allowed a two-run double off the left field wall by Georgia Casey.
“We gave them too many outs,” Wieligman said. “That’s too good of a team; you can’t give up outs in a game against a team like that.
“We gave up at least two outs with that throwing error, and then the squeeze bunt that we don’t get an out somewhere. They took advantage of them.”
Despite a shaky 40-pitch inning in the second, Freeman settled down in the rest of the game. The senior from Sydney, Australia, gave up just five hits and four earned runs, striking out five and walking four batters.
The Cowgirls took a while to get to the Sooner’s Kelsey Stevens, who improved to 32-7 on the season with the victory. Stevens struck out eight and allowed four earned runs off seven hits and three walks.
OSU’s rally came in the bottom of the fifth thanks to a quick loading of the bases on just six pitches. Gessenia DeLaCruz took her base after Stevens hit her with the pitch, while both Shannon Kaufman and Shelby Davis advanced on infield singles.
With the bases loaded, Ari Morrison ripped a two-run double along the third base line. The Cowgirls scored two more but could not complete the comeback.
OSU honored Kaufman, Morrison, Freeman and Tarah Ettinger before the game for their contributions to the Cowgirls throughout the years.
“The seniors handled the day well, and they all performed well,” Wieligman said. “It’s just unfortunate for them that we didn’t come away with a win today.”