By Jason Elmquist
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Rich Wieligman may want to send a bouquet of flowers or a gift bag to whomever sets the Big 12 Conference schedule. Because this season, they did the Oklahoma State University softball team no favors.
The Cowgirls start a brutal final stretch to the regular season this weekend with sixth-ranked Texas visiting the Cowgirl Softball Stadium — and follow with a series season finale against Bedlam rival Oklahoma, which is ranked No. 1 in the nation.
“I don’t have any control over that, that’s just the way it fell,” Wieligman said. “It really worked well for us this year, as far as our finals schedule, having this bye week in front of the finals and getting out on the field to work out. You’ve got to play them some time, we just get them back-to-back and that’s just the way it goes.”
The final stretch comes after over a week off for the Cowgirls, who have spent this week focused on finals in the classroom as opposed to the season finales.
When OSU opens against Texas at 7 p.m. Friday, it will have been eight days since Oklahoma State last faced an opponent — a two-game sweep of Wichita State in Wichita, Kan.
“It’s given us a chance to get our nicks taken care of with some kids kind of nicked up and give them some rest and get healed,” Wieligman said. “But then we’ve had finals where they are all focused on finals — softball is not the priority, they all want to do good in their classes and I want them to do well in their classes.”
The Oklahoma State coach said he planned to have some simulated scrimmages and live at-bats midweek to help knock off the rust, but he had no concerns with the long layoff.
“It shouldn’t take them too long to get back into the swing of things,” Wieligman said. “They’ve been playing all year and will just have to knock a little rust off. And they’ve been coming in (throughout the week) getting groundballs and hitting. So really it’s just a matter of seeing pitches.”
Friday’s series opener will have some significance. Members of the Cowgirls will be wearing pink jerseys and pink accessories. Each jersey will be auctioned off above the Cowgirl dugout.
“It’s the first time we’ve done it. It’s pretty neat,” the OSU coach said. “It seems like all of college athletics has done something for breast cancer research and we felt like we needed to do something like. The girls are excited about it.”
Wieligman said Tuesday he had not thought about wearing something pink alongside his players, but mentioned that he will have to find a way to join the cause.
“I haven’t thought about it, but maybe I need to,” Wieligman said. “I’m sure I’ll do something.”
Saturday’s contest, which is scheduled for 3 p.m., will be OSU’s Coaches vs. Cancer Kids Day. The program will host kids during the game and give them the opportunity to do introductions with the team. Sunday’s 12:05 p.m. first pitch will be televised on ESPN and OSU will celebrate its five seniors on the squad.