By Jason Elmquist
STILLWATER, Okla. —
When the final out was recorded Sunday at Cowgirl Softball Stadium — yet another strikeout by Texas’ Blaire Luna — the Oklahoma State University players were obviously dejected about not being able to complete the sweep of the sixth-ranked Longhorns.
But after recalling the entire weekend, the Cowgirls were far from that thought. It was disappointing to lose 7-2 on Senior Day in which five seniors were recognized. But what OSU did in three days is proof of the work they've put in the entire season.
They had just won the series against the second-place team in the Big 12 Conference, and the No. 2 team in the national RPI.
“They are a tough team to hold down for that many innings, I will say,” OSU coach Rich Wieligman said. “But for us to give up really just one big inning over three games is just hats off to our pitching. They are a good hitting team that deserves their ranking, but I thought our kids did great this weekend.
“I don’t want them to focus on (Sunday’s) game. To take two out of three is huge. It’s a credit to them coming out fighting and playing hard for OSU.”
That pitching was led by one of the seniors, Kat Espinosa that played in her second to last game in Stillwater — the Cowgirls will host Oklahoma on Sunday in the season finale — and gave a glimmer of the stuff that she used to propel Oklahoma State to the College Softball World Series two years ago.
Before getting roughed up Sunday, Espinosa had gone 14 shutout innings against a Texas team that came into the series averaging just over six runs per game — and left Stillwater with just eight runs for the entire weekend.
“Everything she’s done speaks for itself. Kat’s pitched us to a World Series, had a great weekend and I think good things are still to come,” Wieligman said. “But I don’t think these seniors are done yet. They want to keep playing.”
Though Oklahoma State couldn’t complete the sweep, the Cowgirls still got plenty of confidence heading into the regular season finale series against Bedlam rival Oklahoma. While OSU might have done enough this weekend to secure a spot in the postseason with a pair of wins against a Texas team that was ranked second in RPI, Oklahoma State could do even more if they can upset the No. 1 Sooners — who top the RPI, which plays a big role in the selection of postseason participants.
“(Texas is) a super regional team right there and we just took two of three from them — that’s what it takes to get to the World Series,” Wieligman said.
But OSU’s series win over Texas won’t be the only reason for hope heading into this weekend Bedlam series. On Sunday, the Sooners lost a 2-0 game at Kansas — after having to rally late for a 4-2 win earlier in the day.
It’s likely that the two wins over the talented Texas squad — which pushed OSU into the 30-win plateau — solidified a spot for the Cowgirls, come postseason. But just getting in isn’t on the mind of this squad. It’d be even better to make a splash by doing something similar to the top-ranked team in the land this weekend.
“Winning these two games was extremely important, we needed them,” OSU senior Tamara Brown said. “But we also need to bring this momentum into Bedlam weekend and hopefully have the same success.”