By Jason Elmquist
Stillwater News Press
STILLWATER, Okla. —
The Oklahoma State softball team is scheduled to play five games in a three-day span as part of the annual Mizuno Classic this weekend at the Cowgirls Softball Stadium.
The Cowgirls will play a doubleheader Friday starting at 4:30 p.m., first facing Drake before taking on the toughest team of the weekend — No. 17 Minnesota at 7 p.m.
Oklahoma State faced the Golden Gophers at the LSU Softball Classic, its first tournament of the season, and fell 1-0 after a throwing error in the final inning allowed the winning run to score.
“(Minnesota) isn’t going to beat themselves, and we beat ourselves against them — it’s zero-zero and we throw the ball away at third base to allow them to score the winning run,” Cowgirl coach Rich Wieligman said. “They are a good team, a top 20 team, and we’ve got to be able to take care of the ball and figure out a way to score. This team has the potential to be a top 25 team, if we put it all together.”
OSU will hopefully clean things up this weekend after splitting four games at home a week ago against Nebraska and Arkansas-Pine Bluff. In the first loss to No. 16 Nebraska, the Cowgirls committed five errors to lose 8-4 and just couldn’t get timely hits in a 4-3 loss.
“You have to play really well to beat a team of that caliber and our girls understand that to beat a team like that you have to put it all together — you’ve got to be able to hit when you need to, you’ve got to pitch and play defense,” the Cowgirl coach said. “In both games, we didn’t have one of those. ... You can’t make five errors in a game against that quality of an opponent and expect to win. We’ve got too take better care of the ball.”
While Wieligman is looking for the defense to show improvements, he has been happy with his team’s offensive production.
The past two years, Oklahoma State has struggled mightily at the plate. After averaging 3.4 runs per game in the previous two seasons, the Cowgirls have averaged 5 runs a game through the first 19 games this year.
“It’s really good that they’ve had that success so that they know how to work through the process and be able to understand what it takes to do that,” Wieligman said. “A lot of kids come out and expect to be as succcessful as they were in high school, and it’s not going to happen that way.
“But you can see our players growing offensively. The young players are definitely getting better and better and producing now.”