Cowgirls going into Big 12 Tournament to win it

Jason Elmquist/Stillwater News Press Oklahoma State softball coach Kenny Gajewski is ready as his team looks to win its first conference tournament championship in 26 years this weekend at the Big 12 Tournament in Oklahoma City. 

In its 20th season of play at Cowgirl Stadium, Oklahoma State will look to build on the success it has had under fourth-year coach Kenny Gajewski by tackling one of the nation's most imposing schedules.

Twenty-seven matchups against teams that competed in the NCAA Tournament last season pack most of the Cowgirls' 2019 schedule. Ten of those matchups will come against super-regional squads from a year ago, and seven will pit the Cowgirls against a team that competed in the 2018 Women's College World Series.

OSU opens its 2019 season with a three-week road trip beginning Feb. 8-10 with five games at the Houston Invitational. The action continues with the Cowgirls slated to compete in the inaugural St. Pete/Clearwater Elite Invitational Feb. 14-16 and return to the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic in Palm Springs, California, Feb. 21-23.

A Feb. 21 meeting with Arizona State at the Mary Nutter marks OSU's first matchup of the year against a 2018 WCWS team.

The Cowgirls' first weekend in Stillwater takes place March 1-3, when OSU will square off with Seattle, Syracuse, McNeese State and Northern Iowa twice as part of the OSU/Tulsa Invitational.

Up next, the Pokes will head to Kansas for a March 6 matchup against Wichita State, and then will embark on an 1,891-mile journey to Eugene to face off with Oregon in a three-game series beginning on March 8.

The Cowgirls and Ducks have met 18 times prior, with OSU holding a 10-8 edge over the 2018 WCWS participants in the series, but 2019 will mark the first time that the programs are slated to meet at a non-neutral site.

After returning from its longest road trip of the season, OSU hosts Central Arkansas on March 13 in another midweek matchup.

Gajewski and Co. will be back on the road following the brief pit stop, however, as the Cowgirls head to Oxford, Mississippi, and Memphis, Tennessee, over St. Patrick's Day weekend for a quartet of matchups against Samford, Ole Miss (twice) and Memphis.

An eight-game road trip continues with a March 20 visit to Tulsa before the Cowgirls open Big 12 play against Baylor in Waco on March 22. OSU earned its first-ever three-game sweep of the Bears last season in Stillwater, but were edged out by their conference foe during pool play at the 2018 Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship in Oklahoma City.

OSU's only other Big 12 road series in 2019 comes April 12-14 when it heads to Ames for a three-game set against Iowa State.

The home portion of OSU's conference schedule begins March 29-31 when Texas visits Cowgirl Stadium. OSU is 5-1 in its last six meetings with the Longhorns, having swept its longtime rival in 2017 and earning the program's first series victory in Austin last season.

The Cowgirls' form against Texas, led by coach Kenny Gajewski, marks the best six-game stretch against UT in program history, surpassing a 4-2 run that began April 21, 2012 and ended April 25, 2014.

After playing host to Texas, the Cowgirls will welcome Kansas to Stillwater for a three-game series that runs April 5-7.

OSU's final stretch of the regular season, and the early portion of its postseason action, is guaranteed to see the Cowgirls stay within the boundaries of their home state, as Texas Tech visits Cowgirl Stadium April 26-28 and the annual Bedlam Series takes place May 3-5.

OSU will host the first and third Bedlam matchups against Oklahoma, with the May 4 clash scheduled to take place in Norman.

Postseason play gets underway at the Big 12 Softball Championship in Oklahoma City on May 10-11, with NCAA Regionals beginning May 17. The Women's College World Series is set to begin on May 30 at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium.