Stillwater News Press

April 5, 2014

OSU offense gets going to claim series over ISU

By Jason Elmquist
Stillwater News Press

STILLWATER, Okla. — The Oklahoma State offense busted out in a big way Saturday against Iowa State.

After scoring just one run in its first five Big 12 Conference games, OSU blasted the Cyclones in Game 1 of a doubleheader Saturday, 10-0, before needing extra innings to win 7-6 to claim the series.

“You can’t figure this game out, you really can’t. When you go by statistics and who should go where and then you shake it up a little bit and good things happen,” Cowgirl coach Rich Wieligman said. “That’s what happened. I shook it up a little bit. Maybe I should have done it a long time ago.”

After Friday night’s 2-0 loss to Iowa State — in which OSU stranded eight base runners and hit into two double plays — Wieligman had an extra-long post-game talk with his team. And the words resonated into their play.

The Cowgirls took their coach’s words to heart from the beginning with a three-run inning to set the tone.

“We had a long talk after the game and then another talk just as a team and then with the coaches in the morning, and that really helped us and motivated us to come out and play our best,” said Danielle Riddle, who was a big part of the victory in the nightcap.

With the offensive explosion, senior pitcher Simone Freeman didn’t have to worry about the pressure to perform at a high level as she’s done all year — even though she still did. But Wieligman was able to preserve a few innings in her arm, which would come in handy in the second game, as she went just three innings in the run-rule first game — allowing one hit and two walks while striking out four.

“It was relaxing, actually. I could go out there and enjoy the game and it wasn’t as stressful,” said Freeman, who helped her cause with an RBI double in the first inning.

While the first game was never in doubt — with crooked number innings in the first three trips to plate, including a three-run home run from Ari Morrison in the second —  Oklahoma State (21-16, 2-5 in Big 12) found itself in familiar territory with a dogfight in the second game.

The Cyclones came out hot with a three-run first inning to chase freshman Meagan Lively out of the game without recording an out.

But the Cowgirls got a resounding response in the bottom half of the inning when Riddle connected for a two-run shot to left field.

“It wasn’t too hard (to get back up) when Dani Riddle hits a two-run homer and puts us right back in the game,” the Cowgirl coach said. “You’re down 3-0 and then all of a sudden it’s 3-2, we’re right back in it. That was huge for us to respond from that three-spot with a two-spot of our own.”

With Oklahoma State holding a one-run lead heading to the seventh, it looked as though the Cowgirls would finally get to win the close one. That is, until Lexi Slater hit a two-run shot off of Freeman to claim a 6-5 lead for the Cyclones.

It appeared the Cowgirls were destined for another close game — as 10 of their 16 losses on the year have been by two runs or less. And with two outs and Riddle standing on second, after getting her fourth hit of the game, Tarah Ettinger popped up to second base but was lost in the sun and allowed Riddle to come around to force extra innings.

“We got the first break we’ve gotten in a long time,” Wieligman said. “I felt bad for Iowa State, but it was like the softball gods did look upon us with that because the ball got in the sun and allowed us to score from second base.”

OSU nearly ended it in the eighth inning as Gessenia DeLaCruz opened with a double and the Cowgirls loaded the bases, but it was all for not. In the ninth, Tiffany Mikkelson reached on a leadoff walk and was sacrificed to second. She would score on a single by Madison Ellis that was misplayed by the Cyclones’ left fielder.

The Cowgirls will take in a midweek nonconference game with North Texas at 6 p.m. Wednesday before traveling to Texas Tech for a three-game Big 12 series.

Cowgirl notes: Leadoff hitter Shelby Davis extended her hitting streak to 12 straight games, going a combined 5 of 7 in Saturday’s doubleheader. The streak ties for sixth-longest in school history. She is batting .490 during the stretch, going 24 for 49 at the plate.

OSU has been able to take advantage of the the speedy junior outfielder has reaching base as much as she has. Davis stole a combined five bases in the two games Saturday, to increase her season total to 33 stolen bases.