By Jason Elmquist
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Oklahoma State went toe-to-toe with the sixth-ranked softball team in the country and came away with a walk-off, extra-inning victory over Texas 1-0 in the series opener Friday at Cowgirl Softball Stadium.
“I’m so proud of how they played the whole game. I’m happy for them because we’ve been close a lot this year, and for them to come through was important,” OSU coach Rich Wieligman said. “They are obviously a really good team. And the way we played tonight proves that we can beat anybody in the nation — we just have to continue to play ball like that.”
The significance of the victory wasn’t lost on the Cowgirls. With OSU’s record inching toward 30 wins — now at 29-22 for the season — and improving its Big 12 Conference record to 5-8, the hopes of a trip back to the postseason is in their sights.
“I think we’re going to regionals now,” said Cowgirl pitcher Kat Espinosa, who struck out nine with no walks and four hits for her third shutout of the year. “This is part of my dream, to finally make it to regionals this year and go back to where we were two years ago (with a trip to the College World Series).”
The emotional victory for OSU gave Texas its first true road loss of the season and just its second shutout.
The two teams combined for just four hits through the first seven innings, with OSU coming the closest to potentially breaking the scoreless tie.
In the bottom of the second, Samantha Chrisman reached base with a leadoff walk and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Tiffany Mikkelson. A wild pitch allowed Chrisman to advance to third with just one out, but the next two Cowgirl batters grounded out and struck out to end the threat.
The Longhorns looked poised to finally punch through in the top of the ninth with a leadoff triple by Taylor Hoagland. But Espinosa caught a pop up in front of the plate for the first out and struck out Texas’ No. 3 and 4 hitters, Taylor Thorn and Mandy Ogle, respectively, swinging to escape the inning unscathed.
“For her to pitch out of that and didn’t let that triple bother her, that’s big,” Wieligman said. “She didn’t lose her composure out there and kept firing away. You could tell she was focused on the next pitch and that’s the way to play the game.”
In the bottom half of the frame, Tamara Brown earned a leadoff walk and was moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Ari Morrison. Two batters later Chrisman came through with a clutch two-out hit through the right side of the infield on a 0-1 count. The throw was off line and Brown touched home for the game-winner.
“I saw an outside pitch and just took a hack at it because coach Wigs told me to hit that outside pitch and I just barreled at it because we needed that run,” Chrisman said.
The two teams will square off again Saturday at Cowgirl Softball Stadium with a 3 p.m. start time, followed by the series finale at 12:05 p.m. Sunday, which will be televised on ESPN.