Within the past week, Oklahoma State’s three major winter sports (men’s basketball, wrestling and women’s basketball) have come to an end. So, for a lot of the OSU fanbase, it’s time to look toward the spring.
Kenny Gajewski’s No. 2 Cowgirl softball team starts Big 12 play this weekend against No. 22 Baylor in Stillwater. First pitch Friday is scheduled for 6 p.m. If you haven’t kept up to this point, OSU is 26-2 on the season, and the Cowgirls are 8-1 against ranked foes.
OSU enters Friday’s series opener on an eight-game winning streak with the first two wins on that spree coming against Florida State, a Top 10 team.
How are the Cowgirls getting it done?
Well it starts in the circle where OSU is as deep as it has been in the Gajewski era. The Cowgirls have three pitchers who have thrown at least 40 innings and have an ERA under 2.00.
Ace Kelly Maxwell is back (and early signs say she’ll be back again next season). In 63 1/3 innings, Maxwell has a 1.99 ERA and she already has 114 strikeouts, which ranks in the Top 20 nationally. Of the 209 at-bats against Maxwell, only 28 batters have gotten a hit and only 11 of those have gone for extra bases. Maxwell is 8-0 this season and has four saves.
Then there’s Alabama transfer Lexi Kilfoyl, who has a 1.60 ERA in her first 48 innings as a Cowgirl. She is 7-1 on the season and has 51 strikeouts to only 31 hits given up.
And then on top of those two elite arms, the Cowgirls have a freshman who is dealing. Kyra Aycock has thrown 40 2/3 innings this season and has a team-best 1.55 ERA, giving up just nine runs in her 7-0 start.
At the plate
There are seven Cowgirls who are hitting .300 with at least 20 at-bats. Purdue transfer Rachel Becker leads the way hitting a ridiculous .527, which ranks third nationally. What’s perhaps more ridiculous is her NCAA-leading on-base percentage of .646, as Becker has also drawn a team-high 24 walks to go with her team-high 39 hits.
After struggling at the plate last season, by her standards, Kiley Naomi appears to be all the way back and then some, hitting a career-best .416. OSU’s shortstop, Naomi also leads the Cowgirls with seven home runs and 31 RBIs. For reference, Naomi had six home runs and 21 RBIs all of last season.
With as good as the Cowgirls are, one would think they’d be an older group. However — along with Aycock in the circle — the Cowgirls also have three freshmen doing work at the dish.
Micaela Wark, a redshirt freshman, transferred to OSU from Kansas. Wark hits .423, which is second on the team among Cowgirls with at least five at-bats.
Kattie Lott, a true freshman from Cypress, Texas, has taken advantage of her 29 at-bats this season, hitting .379 with 10 RBIs.
Then there’s Tallen Edwards, who reclassified to get to college a year early out of Southmoore High School. Having started in 27 of OSU’s 28 games, Edwards hits .370 with 17 RBIs.
So if you’re looking for OSU’s best shot at a team national title this school year, look no further than Gajewski’s group, and they start conference play with a tough Baylor team this weekend.