Whether baking chocolate chip cookies or winning softball games, the key to success is finding a repeatable recipe that works.
All three ingredients to success —timely hitting, quality pitching and solid defense were present in Oklahoma State’s (28-5) 4-1 victory against Iowa State on Friday in Stillwater. It’s OSU’s fourth conference win.
Even with an ace on the mound in Kelly Maxwell not at her peak, the Cowgirls had every ingredient to make up a victory.
“I didn’t think that Kelly had her best stuff today, but she was a grinder,” coach Kenny Gajewski said. “She did what she had to and we had enough hits. We made our hits count.”
Offensively, the Cowgirls were not spectacular. The usually electric lineup trotted out by OSU was relatively quiet. OSU only mustered four hits in the game — one less that the Cyclones (23-9).
When they needed a hit the most, though, the Cowgirls got it.
With two runners on, and ISU starting pitcher Saya Swain pulled from the game, senior third baseman Sydney Pennington capitalized from the box.
She roped a ball into the gap that scored Haley Busby and Alysen Febrey. That shot contributed to a 3-run bottom of the third — the only crooked number put up on the scoreboard.
“Tonight Sydney Pennington came through,” Gajewski said. “She had three quality at-bats. Got that double. It was huge. We need these guys to drive in runs for us. I was very happy with the way they made it happen.”
With sophomore Kelly Maxwell starting the game, and senior pitcher Logan Simunek following in relief, the Cyclones were held to just one run — a solo shot by Skyler Ramos in the fifth inning.
The Cyclones threatened in the sixth, loading the bases with two outs, but Simunek battled hard in the inning and won by forcing a flyout to left field for the final out.
“That was an intense situation with a lot of pressure,” Pennington said. “It was good that we had a seasoned pitcher. It’s good that she can experience that again because she’s been through stuff like that already. I’m proud of her for that. It was really good.”
The final ingredient, excellent fielding, was on display in the top of the third courtesy of Cowgirl centerfielder Chyenne Factor.
Factor saved at least on run by breaking immediately to her right and sprinting to make a diving catch — robing Milaysia Ochoa of RBI’s. With two outs, the multiple Cyclones rounding home were made a moot point.
“I had no doubt that she would make the play,” Maxwell said. “She’s awesome out there. She reads balls very well and somehow makes every catch.”
All three aspects of play the Cowgirls showed helped them get a win over a good Iowa State team. The Cowgirls hope to be cooking with that recipe in the future.
“It’s what wins postseason games,” Gajewski said. “Got to get hits that count. You got to throw zeroes up on that board and you’ve got to make plays. That’s the recipe for winning against top caliber teams.”