After giving up seven early runs, Logan Simunek and the Cowgirls never gave up their fight and clawed their way back to capture the series against Texas Tech, 8-7.
Early mistakes hurt the No. 12 Cowgirls (36-11, 12-2 Big 12), as two errors in the first allowed No. 13 Texas Tech to jump out to a 3-0 lead. With runners on second and third and only one out, this game had potential to get away from the Cowgirls quick. Great defensive efforts on back-to-back plays at the plate kept the Red Raider lead to three.
A quiet second inning was the calm before the storm, as both teams combined for seven runs in the third. The Red Raiders (35-11, 8-9 Big 12) started it off with a three-run shot over the right field wall, expanding their lead to six. Later in the top half, Kelcy Leach, Tech's catcher, hit a solo shot to right field giving the visitors a 7-0 lead.
This led coach Kenny Gajewski to take out Samantha Clakley and put Logan Simunek in the circle for relief.
The right field wall would see more action in the bottom half of the inning, as OSU would sail two balls over it to get onto the scoreboard.
Rylee Bayless started the Cowgirl scoring with a solo home run, giving the team life and the single season home run record. This shot was the Cowgirl's 63rd of the season, breaking the previous team record of 62. Later in the inning, a Samantha Show walk was followed by a Michaela Richbourg home run, cutting the Red Raider lead to four. The Red Raider lead wouldn’t get any larger, as Simunek was dealing her best stuff from the circle.
Simunek followed the Cowgirls' three-run third inning with three strikeouts in the fourth. The three Texas Tech hitters stuck out looking, and coach Gajewski knew he could see that kind of pitching from Simunek.
“We know we’ve got that we just got to get it out of her,” Gajewski said. “(Texas Tech) had no shot that inning.”
Simunek's stellar fourth inning may have electrified the team and shifted the momentum to the Cowgirls' side.
“It felt really good for me and felt good that I could help our team out,” Simunek said. “I think it was a game changer for us and it really turned the momentum.”
While Simunek was on point in the circle, the team still found itself down four runs. This would change in the fifth as with runners on second and third, Chyenne Factor singled up the middle, scoring both Cowgirl runners. After an infield single, OSU had runners on first and second with Sydney Springfield being called on to pinch hit. Springfield has been clutch in pinch hit situations, and has has multiple home runs when called on off the bench this season.
Springfield hit a deep fly ball that off the bat looked like a home run, but winds blowing from the outfield kept the ball in the ballpark. The Texas Tech center and left fielder, both looking at the ball ready to catch it, collided, causing the ball to drop and allow two runs to score. The Cowgirls put four on the board in the fifth, tying the score at seven.
Simunek made quick work of the Red Raiders in the sixth, allowing her team to get back to the plate with momentun. With the bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth, Factor was up again. She put this one back up the middle again right between the pitcher’s legs, driving in the eighth OSU run, giving the team the lead.
“It was a changeup," Factor said. "I just kind of went out and tapped it, but it worked."
Texas Tech got out of the inning with giving up one run, but that’s all that Simunek needed. The junior pitcher struck out four batters while only giving up four hits, and gave OSU the opportunity to come back by allowing no earned runs. Coach Gajewski praised her and the team’s ability to have two straight games without a walk. He was also excited about the team and the energy it has displayed toward the end of the season.
“I’m just really proud of this team,” Gajewski said. “There’s something special here it’s brewing, I can see it.”