Woodland denies history with US Open title at Pebble Beach

NewsOK: Oklahoma City News, Sports, Weather & Entertainment

OSU softball: Cowgirl shortstop Kiley Naomi is a budding star

Advertisement
Freshman Kiley Naomi has been a standout defender at shortstop for Oklahoma State this season. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman]
Freshman Kiley Naomi has been a standout defender at shortstop for Oklahoma State this season. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman]

STILLWATER — When the ball came off the bat, it seemed certain to be a line-drive single to left field.

That’s what the Iowa State baserunner thought, before quickly learning she had drifted too far off first base.

Oklahoma State shortstop Kiley Naomi somehow got to the ball, jumping and reaching up to snag it in the tip of her glove. Then, all in one move — and with all her momentum carrying her toward shallow left field — she landed, turned and side-armed a perfect throw to first baseman Michaela Richbourg for a double play.

If Naomi hadn’t made the play, it wouldn’t have done much to change the outcome of the Cowgirls’ 17-2 win Friday in pool play at the Big 12 Tournament.

But she did make the play. She always seems to make the play, including some that not many people expect her to make. Her coach isn't caught off guard so often anymore.

“It’s just another one of those plays,” OSU coach Kenny Gajewski said of the Naomi’s play on the line drive against Iowa State. “I hope we can capture all of these plays to show our future kids, this is how we play.

“Kiley is a superstar, if you ask me, with the plays she’s making, the way she’s playing.”

Naomi, a true freshman from North Vermilion High School in Maurice, Louisiana, will put her defensive skills on display when the Cowgirls face BYU in the NCAA Regional opener at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Cowgirl Stadium. Arkansas and Tulsa open play at 5 p.m. in the double-elimination regional.

OSU has turned 31 double plays, tied for third-most nationally, and Naomi has been part of 19 of them.

She and senior second baseman Madi Sue Montgomery spent a lot of time working in the fall to get on the same page for their double-play turns.

“We had to get used to each other a little bit to know who was going where and what each other could do,” Montgomery said. “But we’re good now. There’s trust there now. She’s gonna give me a great throw, and I know if I get the ball to her, she’s gonna get rid of it.”

Naomi arrived at OSU a college-ready defender, but offensively, she faced some growing pains.

Her speed has been impactful, leading the team with 16 stolen bases in 18 attempts. But not too long into the season, she found herself at the bottom of the lineup.

Gradually, she forced Gajewski to start moving her up the batting order. In that same Iowa State game Friday, Naomi showed a glimpse of her hitting development when she stepped into a pitch on the outside corner and drove it over the fence to the opposite field.

It was her sixth home run of the season, but first in over two months.

“I’ve got to get her more at-bats,” Gajewski said. “She’s a special kid, and fun to watch.”

*************************************************************************

NCAA SOFTBALL REGIONAL

Oklahoma State vs. BYU

When: 7:30 p.m., Thursday

Where: Cowgirl Stadium, Stillwater

TV: ESPN3

Related Photos
<strong>Oklahoma State shortstop Kiley Naomi has been part of a team-high 19 double plays out of the 31 OSU has turned this season. [AP PHOTO]</strong>

Oklahoma State shortstop Kiley Naomi has been part of a team-high 19 double plays out of the 31 OSU has turned this season. [AP PHOTO]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-228825326a682ef9debe2bd1629780b6.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma State shortstop Kiley Naomi has been part of a team-high 19 double plays out of the 31 OSU has turned this season. [AP PHOTO] " title=" Oklahoma State shortstop Kiley Naomi has been part of a team-high 19 double plays out of the 31 OSU has turned this season. [AP PHOTO] "><figcaption> Oklahoma State shortstop Kiley Naomi has been part of a team-high 19 double plays out of the 31 OSU has turned this season. [AP PHOTO] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-a30dbf756d6f711f8624621b196e7a7c.jpg" alt="Photo - Freshman Kiley Naomi has been a standout defender at shortstop for Oklahoma State this season. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman] " title=" Freshman Kiley Naomi has been a standout defender at shortstop for Oklahoma State this season. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Freshman Kiley Naomi has been a standout defender at shortstop for Oklahoma State this season. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure>
Scott Wright

A lifelong resident of the Oklahoma City metro area, Scott Wright has been on The Oklahoman staff since 2005, covering a little bit of everything on the state's sports scene. He has been a beat writer for football and basketball at Oklahoma and... Read more ›

Comments