The Show Must Go On, Cowgirls Punch Ticket to WCWS
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Only sixty-four miles separate Oklahoma City from Stillwater, the home of the Oklahoma State Cowgirls.
Though it’s taken eight years to get back, the Cowgirls (44-15) were the first team to punch their ticket to the home of the Women’s College World Series as they defeated Florida State (55-10) 3-2 on Saturday afternoon.
OSU took advantage of a litany of mistakes made by the Seminoles, who committed four errors on the day. After Chyenne Factor hit a solo home run to put the Cowgirls on the board, Chelsea Alexander hit a short ground ball that third baseman Sydney Sherrill airmailed into center field. That error allowed Alexander to move to second, while another throwing error by first baseman Carsyn Gordon allowed Sydney Pennington to score from second on the play.
The Cowgirls scored once more in the sixth, as Madi Sue Montgomery’s sacrifice fly scored Shalee Brantley. Brantley had come around to third after being inserted as a pinch-runner, turning a stolen base into a two-bag play when catcher Anna Shelnutt misfired a throw down to second into center field.
Florida State was able to score one run off Cowgirls starter Samantha Show, when Leslie Farris singled in pinch-runner Deja Bush; Shelnutt homered to left to lead off the seventh inning and cut the lead to one, but the Seminoles could not push another run across against Cowgirls reliever Logan Simunek.
As was the case in both of the previous two games, Show and Meghan King both got the ball to start Game 3 for their teams. Though both pitchers were at the top of their game, Show bested King when it mattered, and her team managed enough at the plate to support her.
Saturday’s result brings the process full circle for Show, who took a gamble by transferring from Texas A&M to Oklahoma State for her senior season. The East Bernard, Texas native took the transition process quite well, as head coach Kenny Gajewski can attest.
“It’s cool to see a kid come in here and gel and be coachable and truly fall in love with her teammates and everyone around here. She’s [been] embraced from day one,” Gajewski said.
This series-clinching win also comes as a result of the Cowgirls’ season-long commitment to winning, which Gajewski touched on after the game.
“They told me they wanted to be coached like a championship team. Not everybody wants that, it’s not easy… I’m just proud of what they committed to,” he mentioned.
Gajewski himself raised the stakes before the game, challenging the slumping Factor to have some good at-bats in Saturday’s game. That challenged clearly factored into her performance, as the outfielder’s home run dealt a big blow to the Seminoles in the third inning.
“I had a big talk with Chy today before we started. I said, ‘I need you to look at me and tell me if you want to hit or not,’ because I didn’t like the look in her eye yesterday at all,” the head coach stated.
“Man, that home run was huge.”
The Cowgirls’ victory also signifies a continuation of Madi Sue Montgomery’s college softball career, who has been in the starting lineup of a school-record 241-consecutive games for Oklahoma State.
“I don’t think I’ve felt it yet. It’s a lot better doing in on this side than being the one that lost,” the infielder joked after the game.
While Montgomery’s team and tenure will live to see another day, Saturday’s game marked the end of the line for a group of Seminole seniors that have been instrumental in bringing the FSU softball program to where it is now. Cali Harrod, Carsyn Gordon and Meghan King all saw their careers come to a close on Saturday.
“I know that I can leave this program as a senior class [knowing] we left this program in a better place than we found it… I know the underclassmen will have that same feeling and it will drive them in everything they do in offseason,” King stated after the game.
“This senior class has done tremendous and you could sit up here all day and talk about their skill on the field, but off the field I’m just as proud,” head coach Lonni Alameda observed.
As the Seminoles send off a truly special graduating class, Oklahoma State’s group isn’t done with college ball just yet - they will now prepare for the WCWS in Oklahoma City, as they return for the first time in eight years after taking (and surviving) a side trip to Tallahassee.