OSU softball: Pitching staff becoming a strength for Cowgirls
STILLWATER — Oklahoma State softball coach Kenny Gajewski found himself in a tough situation Wednesday night with his team comfortably ahead of North Texas.
Did he put the team’s needs first, or let a player chase an individual accomplishment?
Gajewski came down on the side of the team, knowing that his Cowgirls are building toward something much bigger than what might have happened on a Wednesday night in April.
No. 13-ranked OSU (35-11, 11-2 Big 12) opened its three-game series against No. 16 Texas Tech (35-10, 8-8) with a 3-2 win Friday at Cowgirl Stadium. By the Sunday evening, OSU could be in position to make a run at its first Big 12 title since 1995.
The Bedlam series, of course, stands in the way of that goal, though two of the three games will be played in Stillwater on the first weekend of May.
The Cowgirls are ready to make such a run due to the same reason Gajewski found himself in that awkward situation Wednesday: good pitching.
With his team up 6-0 after five innings against North Texas, Gajewski pulled starter Samantha Clakley in the middle of a no-hitter, because he needed other pitchers to get some work following a weekend off.
“Clakley was really good and on her game, and it felt like she was in complete control,” Gajewski said. “If we had left her in there, it would have been interesting to see if she could have finished it out.”
Clakley has a 9-3 record and team-best 1.74 earned-run average in 76 ⅓ innings.
Samantha Show has been the go-to option for Gajewski in big games, having thrown 36 ⅔ of the Cowgirls’ 47 innings against top-15 opponents. She has a 14-5 record and 2.23 ERA with 84 strikeouts in 122 ⅔ innings.
OSU is coming off back-to-back shutouts of Tulsa and North Texas, but more importantly, the Cowgirls have allowed more than three runs only three times dating back to a 10-1 loss to Mississippi on March 17. And only one of the three was a loss.
Gajewski knows that the depth of his pitching staff will be a major key in the Cowgirls’ postseason potency.
“If you look across the country, it’s gonna take three kids,” he said. “We’ve got to find the third one and the fourth one, and what that looks like.
“We have some more depth. We think we’re gonna score runs. We have to keep getting those kids out there and get them some work.”