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Oklahoma State Softball

Oklahoma State Explodes for First Win in Regional, Good Nights for Naomi and Maxwell

May 19, 2023
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STILLWATER – Kiley Naomi came into the 2023 NCAA Stillwater Softball Regional kind of feeling like her team. Naomi hit .355 on the season with a .627 slugging percentage with 10 home runs and team high 53 RBI, but she was completely left off the Big 12 Coaches All-Big 12 teams. She was on neither the first or the second team and she was not happy. That news came from several sources. The Cowgirls All-American pircher Kelly Maxwell looked tired when she did not finish the first four innings in the Cowgirls elimination loss to lowly Kansas in the Big 12 Tournament. Hardly the way you want to be cruising into the NCAA Regional in your own ballpark. 

“I think we came in playing free and loose,” Maxwell said the team’s attitude coming into the first game of the regional against four-seed Maryland-Baltimore County (UMBC). It worked because the Cowgirls run ruled the visitor 9-0 in six innings.

“We took our team trip to Broken Bow (lake) and took a break to get back our love for the game.”

That trip to Broken Bow has become tradition, whether the team has been playing good or bad. This season it was bad as they had lost 11 of their previous 15 games. Naomi was 5-of-23 in her most recent games with only four RBI. Maxwelll had allowed 12 runs and 12 hits in her last four pitching stints. In 24 appearances prior to those games she had only allowed 26 runs.

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Edwards singled to start the fourth inning.

It all changed alright. Rachel Becker had scored in the bottom of the third on a Katelynn Carwile RBI single to make it 1-0, but in the bottom of the fourth the Cowgirls took control.  Tallen Edwards singled and then she scored on Megan Bloodworth’s double to centerfield. 

Edwards, the freshman that came in mid-year and earned the left field position finished her first regional game 3-for-3 with a single, a double, 2 runs scored and an RBI.

Then it was time for Kiley Naomi. The graduate player had got on with a bunt single in the first, but here with two teammates on she drove a ball that hit high on the wall in right-center and UMBC rightfielder Jerzie Nutile struggled with the karom while Naomi slid into third with a two-run triple. Oklahoma State led 4-0 and things felt right. 

“I was really proud of Kiley. On that first bunt, I didn’’t give her that, she did it on her own knowing they were playing back at third,” said head coach Kenny Gajeski. “she could have been four-for-four today. When we execute like this then we’re pretty dang good.”

“I wasn’t trying to do anything but play with team mindset,” Naomi said. “(At bat) I was sitting on change up and that really set me uup for her fastball.”

The game was delayed by rain for three and a half hours, but Maxwell was fine as she only allowed two hits and delivered 46 strikes in her 69 pitches and the culmination was 10 strike outs in her five innings of work. Lexi Kilfoyl came on and finished up pitching the sixth giving Maxwell a chance to celebrate with her teammates as the walk off win was finished by guess who?

Yep, in the bottom of the sixth with Oklahoma State leading 7-0 and needing just one run for the run rule win, Naomi blasted a no doubt home run to left-center and took a victory lap around the bases. 

The win was important for the whole team, but to these two veterans it was really vital to get back on track.

“I worked hard in the bullpen this week,” Maxwell said. “I put in a changes to my dropball and riseball. Then I just pounded the zone.”

“It was really good and the ball was coming out of her hand hot,” Gajeski said of Maxwell.

Did she ever. Naomi did her share of pounding too on the triple and the home run that finished it. Oklahoma State goes to 42-14 while UMBC fell to 26-16. 

Now, the Cowgirls advance to the winners game on Saturday at 2 p.m. against Wichita State, a team they lost both games to this season. The Shockers (44-10) came from behind to beat Nebraska 6-5 in their first game late. UMBC goes to the elimination game at 4:30 p.m. against Nebraska (34-21) on Saturday.

 

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Oklahoma State Explodes for First Win in Regional, Good Nights for Naomi and Maxwell

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