Cowgirls, 'Noles Gear Up For Super Regional
TALLAHASSEE-- As Oklahoma State and Florida State ready for the first game of their Super Regional showdown on Thursday, it’s clear that both of these teams have a certain swagger about them.
Consider the blazing speed of the Seminoles offense, for example, which has unleashed flurries of runs upon unfortunate opponents time and time again. Such power was on full display during their regional tournament, as they cracked a record-tying four consecutive home runs against South Florida while needing just nine minutes to score three runs and dispatch Bethune-Cookman after a lengthy lightning delay (which is, coincidentally, the same amount of time that it took for tickets to the Super Regional to sell out online).
While the Cowgirls’ offense is also quite potent, they bring a different type of bravado in their game that is best encapsulated by one memorable regular season occurrence. After drilling a home run against the Oregon Ducks on the road, two-way player Samantha Show unleashed the bat flip heard ‘round the softball world, earning Oklahoma State the title of #BatFlipU while also drawing the ire of a certain softball team down in Tallahassee.
Show’s bat flip garnered a less-than-thrilled response from FSU assistant coach Travis Wilson, who Tweeted out a montage of Florida State home runs while making clear that not one of them featured a flipped bat. But, Wilson wanted to make sure that it wasn't directed at Oklahoma State in a message to Softball America.
A handful of current Seminoles who were a part of last year’s title-winning team also objected to a tweet by the Cowgirls’ official account that dubbed Show and the rest of her squad the “Cardiac Cowgirls” - a very similar title to ’Noles head coach Lonni Alameda’s “Cardiac Kids” that took home the WCWS hardware last year.
Despite the tensions that might have bubbled up in the Twitterverse, players and coaches for both teams aren’t proclaiming the next great rivalry just yet. If anything, those interactions emphasize the different styles of play that two successful softball programs bring to the table.
“I think they’re just competitors. Like Coach [Alameda] was saying, they have a chip on their shoulder and they’re going to fight every single pitch,” FSU pitcher Meghan King said.
“Honestly, whatever happens after I hit a home run in those types of situations - so every time that I’ve bat flipped and it’s been on camera - it’s either tied the game up or brought us ahead. It’s just the emotion that comes out and getting my team pumped,” Show stated.
The upcoming Super Regionals showdown has also allowed both coaches to step back and reflect on the successes that they’ve experienced, while also realizing the tremendous growth hat both programs have undergone in recent years.
“I think that’s the one thing that makes our atmosphere so intimate, when you come to the [FSU Softball Complex] and you get the relationships with the players,” Alameda said, while also noting how the inherently social nature of softball allows such genuine relationships to blossom.
“I think we’re in a good spot because we understand that softball is not the only thing that we’re doing here,” observed Cowgirls head coach Kenny Gajewski, who led the team to their fourth consecutive regional appearance and first Super Regional berth during his tenure this season.
“We’re not softball players first - we’re good people first, we’re students first, and they just happen to be really good at the game.”
Though the Seminoles bring power up and down the batting order, infielder Sydney Sherrill has stood out this season on offense. Sherrill abused opposing pitchers to the tune of a .420 clip this season, leading the ’Noles with 16 home runs and 59 RBIs. Meghan King has remained a stalwart in the circle as well, picking up last Sunday’s series-clinching win against South Carolina while going 29-5 with a 1.42 ERA in her senior campaign.
For the Cowgirls, Samantha Show has done it all this season, leading the team with 18 homers while picking up nineteen wins from the circle. Madi Sue Montgomery has been as reliable as ever for OSU, hitting .352 this season while making an appearance in every single game for the Cowgirls to extend her streak to 183 consecutive games played.
While the Twitter sparring between these two teams may reflect some vitriol in their upcoming series, in reality, it’s a showdown between two successful softball programs whose unique skill sets and playing styles will be put the test. While the sun sinks low in Tallahassee on Thursday evening, the action will just be beginning, as the Cowgirls and Seminoles will square off at 7 p.m. sharp.