Cowgirls edge Clemson 5-1 to book third straight trip to Women’s College World Series | OSU Sports Supplementary

STILLWATER – Early Friday, as he prepared to leave home for Game 2 of Oklahoma State’s super regional series with Clemson, coach Kenny Gajewski wondered which of his many orange-and-black hats carry.

In the end, with the Cowgirls one win away from securing another trip to the Women’s College World Series, he opted for neither.

“I said ‘I’m not wearing a hat today,'” Gajewski later explained. “I’m going to buy a new hat.”

Late Friday night, minutes after OSU’s decisive 5-1 Super Regional win over the Tigers, the seventh-year coach sat behind a microphone and wore a white cap that read “OKC Bound.”

Gajewski’s Cowgirls (46-12) took an early lead and relied on throwing Morgan Day (13-4) and Kelly Maxwell to move past the visiting No. 10 Tigers and book their final trip to Oklahoma City in front of a record crowd of 1,384 at Cowgirl Stadium.

Friday’s victory follows a 2-0 victory in Thursday’s opener and now has OSU’s seventh seed on the way to a third straight College World Series appearance, joining the Cowgirls of the coach Sandy Fischer from 1980 to 1982 as the only other team in program history to reach three. straight national championship events.

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OSU is the first program to solidify its place in the bracket for next week’s College World Series, which begins June 2 at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium. After a five-game skid to close out the regular season, the surging Cowgirls travel to Oklahoma City next week, winners in each of their last seven games.

“I think we’re coming in hot, and I’m looking forward to getting there and being able to play that first game in front of a sold-out crowd,” Gajewski said.

The OSU Bats took their time to come to life in Game 1 on Thursday. In front of a packed crowd on Friday, the Cowgirls wasted no time and capitalized on a string of defensive errors from Clemson (45-17), which saw their first Super Regional appearance end in defeat.

Playing as a visitor at their home stadium, OSU struck first and saw Chelsea Alexander reach base via a passed ball on a third strike to start the game. The Cowgirls led 1-0 after coming home on a Cheyenne Factor pitch, the senior outfielder’s third RBI in the Super Regional.

The early advantage swelled at the top of the second when OSU scored three extra runs — all unearned — on a single hit from Alexander, who went 1-for-4 with an RBI and reached base twice. .

The inning was fueled not by Cowgirl bats, but by throwing errors on three straight plays by Alia Logoleo, the Tigers’ sophomore shortstop. OSU jumped on its trio of errors and the lead grew to 4-0 on runs led by Kiley Naomi, Alexander and Factor.

OSU tallied its five runs against Clemson starter Valerie Cagel (16-9), who allowed over four runs for the seventh time in 32 appearances this spring.

“They’re an explosive offensive team,” Clemson coach John Rittman said. “We stepped up the game defensively. Valerie really did her job to get balls on the ground. We just didn’t execute defensively, and you can’t do that against good teams in that environment.

For Gajewski, the Cowgirls jumping on second-inning opportunities offered the latest evidence of the offensive edge he’s seen developing since the end of the regular season.

“We took advantage of a few errors from Clemson,” he said. “When this started happening I kept thinking in my mind, just press the gas and go see if we can force them to do more.”

The only dose of momentum for the visitors came on McKenzie Clark’s solo home run to center field just beyond Factor’s glove reach at the bottom of third. Karli Petty and OSU fought back quickly in the top of the fourth when the Cowgirls second baseman threw his fourth homer of the season into the crowd seated beyond the left field wall.

“It’s a big change in momentum,” Petty said. “It gets the crowd moving. It gets our girls moving. I feel like it just helps our team to keep going and moving forward no matter what.

Day — the graduate transfer from Illinois State — admitted to having pregame nerves, but showed little during his 5⅓ innings in the circle. She allowed five hits, four walks and blocked seven runners in her 25th appearance of the season, the only flaw in Day’s outing coming from Clark’s outburst in the third inning.

Day came out with runners at first and second with one out in the sixth inning and was replaced by Maxwell, who came on in relief to block legacy runners before laying down Clemson’s batters to close the best-of-three series.

During the Big 12 Championship game against Oklahoma earlier this month, Day met the moment on what was then the biggest stage of his career. On Friday night, she delivered again, this time helping to crack OSU’s ticket to Oklahoma City for the third time since 2019.

“That’s why I came here,” Day said. “This stage keeps getting bigger. But you really have to experience it to realize, wow, that’s why I came here.

OKLAHOMA STATE 5, CLEMSON 1

Clemson;001;000;0;—;1;5;3

Day, Maxwell (6) and Cottrill; Cagle and Vieira. W: Day (13-4). L : Cagle (16-9). S: Maxwell (3). HOUR: OSU, Small; CU, Clark.

Angela C. Hale