When Sydney Pennington hit a home run into the decks over the left-field wall, the journey of the ball was not done.
Helpful fans passed the softball around until it rested in the hands of Pennington’s dad.
Oklahoma State was propelled to the NCAA super regionals with a win over Mississippi State on Sunday, and Pennington was propelled to the top of OSU record books.
In the top of the third inning, Pennington, OSU’s senior third baseman, hit a ball high and deep to left field that cleared the fence for a solo home run.
Pennington had taken 35 home run trots before the one that put her team up by three runs, but her 36thwas different. It broke the all-time career OSU home run record.
“It was awesome,” Pennington said. “I couldn’t stop smiling after that. It was a good moment.”
For OSU coach Kenny Gajewski, it was a touching moment. He was not always sure his rock-solid third baseman would be a Cowgirl.
“When the previous coaching staff left, she could have left here,” Gajewski said. “Very easily, she could have been right down the road wearing crimson and cream if she wanted to. And she decided to hold this out. She decided to see this through.”
Pennington, who jokingly said she was aiming for her dad who was standing in the left field bleachers, knew the opportunity she had when stepping up to the plate in the third inning.
Being on the edge of a record, however, did not distract her from concentrating on helping her team beat Mississippi State and advance to a super regional.
“The last couple weeks I’ve been focusing on taking quality at-bats and not trying to do to much,” Pennington said. “I knew today that I could break that record, but nothing changed in my mind in the box. I’ve been trying to stay patient and let it work out on its own.”
The record was previously held by Tiffany Mikkelson, who set the record in 2016. Although players were granted an extra year of eligibility after last season was cut short, Pennington accomplished the feat without needing an extra year on campus.
“She has done this in three and a half years,” Gajewski said. “There’s going to be no asterisk next to her name. That’s even cooler.”
As a four-year veteran, Pennington has been a key part in OSU’s rise to the top of college softball. Her title as the program’s all-time home run leader is only a piece Pennington’s legacy.
“She’s been monumental in helping us land other top kids and other transfers,” Gajewski said. “She bleeds orange. She loves this school she loves this town. It’s really cool.”