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Oklahoma State Softball

Oklahoma State Takes Advantage of Clemson Mistakes to Punch Ticket to OKC

May 27, 2022
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STILLWATER – Sometimes you win games. A pitcher like Kelly Maxwell strikes out 13 opposing hitters or a player like Hayley Busby gets several big hits and backs the offense up with a couple of special defensive plays like a diving catch coming in from first base. Oklahoma State has seen those efforts as recent as Maxwell’s two-hit gem in the circle in game one of the Stillwater Super Regional on Thursday night. Then sometimes a team melts down and hands you a win. That’s really what happened in game two of the Stillwater Super Regional as No. 7 Oklahoma State gained their 10th trip and their third in a row to the NCAA Women’s College World Series with a 5-1 win over No. 10 Clemson.

The Cowgirls trip to Oklahoma City was primarily earned all season long, but the final punch on the ticket was gifted to them in the top of the second inning.

How about this? Back-to-back-to-back errors on Clemson shortstop Alia Logoleo. After Busby grounded out to Logoleo to start the inning. She made a play but then the nightmare followed. Karli Petty grounded the ball over there and Logoleo bobbled it allowing Petty to get to first. Julia Cottrell was next and she hit an almost identical ball to Logoleo and the Tigers shortstop had the slightest hiccup but it was enough for Cottrill to make it very close. Umpire Leah Bowen called Cottrill out, but Cowgirls head coach Kenny Gajewski asked for a review. The review turned the call around and Oklahoma State had runners at first and third.

That brought up OSU shortstop Kiley Naomi, who you guessed it, hit it to Logoleo. This time she threw to second for the force, but the ball got away from second baseman Cammy Pereira and skipped into right field. Petty scored and Cottrill advanced to third.

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Naomi batting in the second inning.

Three straight errors, but Cowgirls leadoff hitter Chelsea Alexander gave Logoleo a break and bunted. Alexander beat it out on her own for a single as Cottrill scored from third. Naomi advanced to third and Alexander to second because there were no Clemson players covering second. It was 3-0 Cowgirls.

Chyenne Factor stepped in and hit the ball to Logoleo and she threw out Factor at first for the second out. Naomi had scored from third and Alexander, who hesitated on the ball hit in front of here at short, broke for third and was thrown out for the final out. In an inning that Logoleo will work a longtime trying to forget, Oklahoma State led 4-0.

“First couple of innings, uncharacteristically we sped up the game,” Clemson head coach John Rittman explained. “We made some mistakes. Val (Cagle) didn’t have her command early and we didn’t play clean defense behind her.”

“We took advantage of some miscues and when it was happening I just kept saying in my head just press the gas down and go and see if we can’t force them into more of these,” Gajewski said of the second inning. “It kind of got on a bad roll on them and we were able to push those runs across.”

Clemson got their first run in the bottom of the third when centerfielder McKenzie Clark blasted a Morgan Day delivery deep to center and Factor tracked it to the wall leaped and some fans thought the Cowgirls athletic hero came up with it, but it escaped her glove for a home run. For Clark it was her twelfth home run of the season. The score was 4-1.

Karli Petty got it right back in the top of the fourth with a run into the left field bleacher party deck. Petty’s fourth home run of the season made it 5-1.

“I feel like it was a big momentum changer. It gets the crowd going and our girls going,” Petty said of her home run. “It keeps us pushing forward.”

“As a pitcher when you give up a home run and it gets momentum going for the other side,” Day said of the home run trade off. “When we get that back it was like we have our runs, we have our lead, and you want to hit a home run then we can hit one back.”

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Day got the win to go 13-4 on the season.

The only real threat after that came in the bottom of the sixth with Clemson having runners at first and second with one out. Gajewski wasn’t going to take any unnecessary chances so he made the switch to the winner of game one in the Super and Co-Big 12 Pitcher of the Year Kelly Maxwell. Maxwell made quick work with a pair of ground outs to end the inning. Day got the win to go to 13-4 on the season as she gave up just one run on five hits and five strike out with four walks. Day wasn’t stellar, but she was good enough.

“The story of the day was Morgan Day giving us a chance to win again,” Gajewski said of the transfer from Illinois State.

“You don’t really know what to expect until your living it. This was fantastic and I’m trying to soak up all of it,” Day said. “I came from a place where there was no admission charge and we would have parents and maybe a few alums in the stands. This was a record crowd tonight. It was incredible.”

Maxwell retired all five batter she faced in relief and added three more strikes outs giving her 16 for the Super Regional and six and two-thirds innings with no runs allowed.

The Cowgirls staked Morgan Day to a 1-0 lead without a hit, okay, without a hit before scoring. Chelsea Alexander got to first safely to lead off the game when Clemson catcher Aby Vieira dropped the third strike right in her glove. Vieira dropped another when Alexander stole second. Cagle threw a wild pitch and Alexander was on third with little effort. By then Chyenne Factor had worked a full count on an eight pitch at bat and grounded to short to score Alexander for the 1-0 lead.

Clemson threatened to even the score or take the lead in the bottom of the first when Cagle drew a two-out walk from Cowgirls starter Morgan Day. Then designated player Marissa Guimbarda singled just past second base into shallow right field. Day saw Clemson catcher Aby Vieira turn on a fastball and hit a flyball to left that Alexander caught just in front of the wall for the third out.

At the point Clemson was just moments away from the bottom falling out.

Oklahoma State became the first team to punch their ticket to Oklahoma City for the 2022 edition of the WCWS. They are 46-12 on the season and Gajewski said he and his team will enjoy being first and watching the others earn their trip to OKC.

“I like being first, he said. “Now, I want the first win in OKC and the last one too.”

They’ll have an eye on their side of the bracket and Super Regionals with Virginia Tech and Florida, Oregon State and Stanford, and Arizona at Mississippi State. Virginia Tech is the only other national seed alive on that side of the bracket.

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Oklahoma State Takes Advantage of Clemson Mistakes to Punch Ticket to OKC

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