OKLAHOMA CITY — The Seminoles were not shaken by a day of delays.
Florida State throttled Oklahoma State 8-0 in six innings on Thursday night in the first round of the Women’s College World Series. The game was supposed to start at 6 p.m. but weather pushed first pitch back to 7:20 p.m.. Rain came back through during the third inning and brought another near two-hour delay. But through it all, the Seminoles were simply better than OSU.
The Cowgirls outscored opponents a combined 37-3 in their Regional and Super Regional. The Seminoles outscored all of those OSU opponents in the fourth inning alone Thursday.
The Cowgirls will play an elimination game against either Washington or Utah at 8:30 p.m. (assuming things are on time) Friday in Hall of Fame Stadium.
“Obviously not the way we drew this up,” OSU coach Kenny Gajewski said. “We didn’t play well in any facet of the game. We didn’t pitch well, we didn’t play good catch and we didn’t get enough good at-bats. Thought that (FSU pitcher Kathryn) Sandercock’s stuff was electric, made it really hard on us. We gotta bounce back. We have the pitching staff, in my mind, to bounce back. We have the team to bounce back. We’ve been in this spot before. I told our team this is what you love as a coach is to see what you look like when you’re up against the wall.”
Florida State took a 2-0 lead into the third inning delay. Kelly Maxwell struck out the first two batters she faced before issuing a full-count walk that ended up costing her. After the walk, Michaela Edenfield stepped to the dish and hit a ball over the fence.
After throwing one inning in the NCAA Regional and Super Regional combined, true freshman Kyra Aycock relieved Maxwell after the delay with OSU’s ace having pitched two innings while allowing two runs off one hit, walking two and striking out three.
Aycock got in some trouble in the bottom of the third, but looked to get out of it when she forced Devyn Flaherty into a groundball to first. However, Micaela Wark had a tough time fielding the ball, and it rolled off her glove into foul territory, allowing Flaherty to get to first safely while Jahni Kerr scored from third. Kalei Harding tried to follow Kerr in, but Wark was able to throw Harding out at the plate, limiting the damage to one run.
It didn’t get any easier for Aycock in the fourth. Florida State scored four runs off two hits in the inning, highlighted by a Kaley Mudge three-run home run to left.
The game ended on a two-out, infield single from Kerr that scored Amaya Ross in the sixth.
“It was an easy [decision to put Aycock in for Maxwell], to be very honest,” Gajewski said. “As the delay got longer, Kelly, we know her history very well. The more she sits, doesn’t usually work out in her favor. We didn’t like the momentum that we didn’t have. Felt like, hey, let’s get a change out there and let’s get Kyra in there. As far as Kyra goes, she’s thrown one inning in the last two weeks. That’s not enough, and she’s a kid that the more she throws, the better that she’ll be. We’re trying to be back here every year and to do that, I gotta get these kids experience. We felt like it was the best move for our team at that time.”
The Cowgirls had a chance to get on the board coming out of the weather delay. With Chyenne Factor on first, Kiley Naomi hit a ball into center that moved Factor to third, but Naomi tried to stretch the single into a double and was tagged out at second to end the inning. She was tagged in the face to add injury to insult.
OSU’s other shot at scoring came in the fifth, where the Cowgirls had two runners on with one out before back-to-back fly outs to center.
OSU finished 4-for-22 (.182) at the plate and left five runners on base. It’s the first time the Cowgirls have been shutout since their 1-0 loss to Texas on April 21. It’s the first time the Cowgirls have been run-ruled since Feb. 18, 2022 — a 10-2 six-inning loss to LSU.
Friday’s elimination game ought to be tense, but the Cowgirls will be the fresher of the two teams. With all the delays, Utah’s and Washington’s opening round game was pushed back to noon Friday. No matter who OSU faces of those two, the 6-seeded Cowgirls will also be the higher seed of the matchup with Washington coming to OKC as the 7 seed and Utah the 15.
“I think we’ll play well — I do,” Gajewski said. “This team is special. They’ve been special all year. I have no doubt that will play well. I wish we didn’t have to wait until 8:30 [p.m.], I can tell you that. I wish we could get right back out here and play. These kids will be antsy all day. They’ll be ready.”