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Oklahoma State Softball

Canady and Stanford Win the Battle of Tired Top Pitchers, Oklahoma State Eliminated

May 31, 2024

OKLAHOMA CITY – Elimination on the line and Stanford and Oklahoma State were going to go with their aces, each a finalist for the NCAA Division I Softball Player of the Year. The Cowgirls Lexi Kilfoyl came in with 26-4 record after throwing 106 pitches late Thursday night in losing a two-hitter to Florida 1-0 because Katie Kistler drove a drop ball that didn’t drop enough for a solo blast and game winner. The actual Player of the Year is Stanford’s NiJaree Canady and she gave up four runs, something she has only done two other times the entire season as the Cardinal lost to top seed Texas 4-0. Canady threw 92 pitches in the loss, just her sixth of the season against 22 wins. So, who would have the most left in the tank and allow their team to stay in Oklahoma City?

Canady showed a lot more positive energy than she did on Thursday evening and Stanford showed a lot more offense. After a rough first inning that had Kilfoyl throwing 22 pitches including 11 to the leadoff hitter, Stanford freshman Ava Gall, who had the only hit for her team in the loss to Texas, jacked an 0-1 pitch to right field for a solo home run. It wasn’t nearly as demonstrative as the shot by Kistler of Florida on Thursday, but it was just as painful. The home run came on Kilfoyl’s pitch 132 in the World Series. 

“Kilfoyl is a really good pitcher and the first pitch she threw me went right by me, but the second pitch she threw was a change up that she hung up,” Gall said of her home run. “We were kind of flat yesterday and we needed some heart. It is hard to beat a team with heart  and energy.”

Canady was human and the Cowgirls got some hits, but they could not get anything across home plate. 

Kilfoyl struggled most of her time in the circle.

Stanford made it 3-0 in the third inning when Kyra Chan singled to left field and then Caelen Koch followed with a single off the glove of shortstop Megan Bloodworth, who was playing Koch closer to the middle of the diamond.  Then freshman Jade Berry doubled just behind third base and the ball rolled into foul territory allowing Berry to get to second and both runners that had moved up on a passed ball to score. 

It was 4-0 in in the fourth when Kaitlyn Lim hit a blast to right-center field. This came on Kilfoyl’s pitch 177 of the two days. It had more exit velocity climbing to nearly 72 miles-per-hour and it traveled 254 feet. 

Kilfoyl was pulled. Neither head coach Kenny Gajewski or pitching coach Carrie Eberle wanted to see any more. Ivy Rosenberry came on and this was now becoming rapidly a lost cause. An unfortunate finish to what had been an outstanding season. Kilfoyl ends with a 26-5 record. She threw 181 pitches in OKC and she allowed five runs on just six hits. The margin for error was thin especially with zero run support.

“If you’ve every been an ace then you can know and comment on her,” Gajewski said of Kilfoyl. “If you haven’t then you have no idea. You have no idea how much pressure is on her, every pitch. Her parents seeing their child have that on them every pitch. It is very hard to be that.”

The closest Oklahoma State actually came to scoring was in the bottom of the sixth inning when designated player Micaela Wark blasted the ball to deep center field and Emily Jones of Stanford got the right jump and got back there to jump up and take away what would have been a home run. 

“We see Jones do that in practice everyday,” head coach Jessica Allister said. “Nothing surprises us with Jones because we do see her do it all the time.”

Stanford added two runs in the fifth inning and then in the sixth added two more, the second run came on an obstruction play at home after Tia Warsop made the catch in left for an out and the runner came from third and Cowgirls catcher Caroline Wong was called for obstruction at the plate. The call was reviewed and upheld and Stanford led 8-0 to set up a run rule sitatution. 

The Cowgirls needed to score to keep the game going to the seventh inning, but Emily Jones proved to be the “web gem” of the night as this time she came screaming in from deep in center field to catch a bloop by Karlie Godwin for the second out. It proved to be the most dramatic as it ended just one hitter later when Calire Timm struck out on four pitches. Canady finished the game on her 100th pitch. 8-0 Stanford.  The Cardinal had the eight runs on 11 hits. Oklahoma State was scoreless for the second straight game and had just three hits, five for the two games they played in Oklahoma City. 

“Obviously, it is not where we wanted to be tonight. Credit Stanford as she has done a good job and Jessica Allister has been a winner where ever she has been. She’s had an amazing turnaround in the time she’s been there,” Gajewski said od Stanford. “I’m just really proud of this group. They really came in and adopted the Cowgirl way.”

Jade Berry on her home run trot.

Canady missed the Stanford postgame press conference as she was with the Stanford trainer following an injury on her second to last pitch.

“Nija motivates me so much,” Berry said. “I think she is the greatest ever and she is such a stud. She is a stud no matter what.”

“When I hit my homer I came into the dugout and told her, ‘This was for you,’” Gall said. “She plays and pitches so hard, so I did hit that for her.”

Stanford (49-16) moves on to try to stay alive on Sunday. Oklahoma State’s season ends at 49-12.

“I never thought I would be in the place where I wouldn’t be ready (to finish my career),” sixth-year catcher Caroline Wang said. “When you are playing at a place like this then you are never ready to end it.”

It is one of the most difficult things for a team and a player to deal with. A really talented team, a team capable of winning the championship ends their season before they wanted to. That is the reality for the Cowgirls.

Discussion from...

Canady and Stanford Win the Battle of Tired Top Pitchers, Oklahoma State Eliminated

1,022 Views | 2 Replies | Last: 1 mo ago by NJAggie
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Really proud of these girls and coaches. You represent OSU so well. Such a classy coach and team. Best of luck to each one of you no matter where the next step takes you. Go Pokes!
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I feel really for the girls, what a terrible time for the bats to go ice cold. Hope they get over it soon and are ready for next year.
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