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Alexander uses rough start as fuel for future

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No. 15 OSU Softball vs. No. 10 Oregon-1165.jpg

OSU designated player Chelsea Alexander celebrates after hitting a walk-off single during the No. 15 Oklahoma State vs. No. 10 Oregon softball game on Saturday, February 29, 2020 at Cowgirl Stadium in Stillwater.

In sports, one moment can change everything for an athlete.

A swing of the bat did just that for Chelsea Alexander.

Alexander, who was hitting .153 (2-for-13) on the season, was thrust into the batter's box Saturday night in the bottom of the ninth inning, with the game deadlocked at four.

“I had not been producing and I don’t want to say I was tanking but it was rough on my head,” Alexander said. “I wasn’t seeing (the ball) and I felt really locked up in the box.”

Despite her hitting struggles, OSU coach Kenny Gajewski said he told her to just give the team a good at-bat, and she gave him a look that told him everything.

“She took the first pitch and her body didn’t move, her body stayed above the ball and her hands stayed above it,” Gajewski said. “I saw that look again and it was really cool that she was able to take practice into the box in front of a huge crowd and in front of a huge moment.”

On the very next pitch, Alexander lined one to left-center field, which scored the game-winning run against No. 10 Oregon.

An emotional Alexander said driving in the game-winning run was nice, but she was just happy to get a hit to break the cold spell.

“A walk-off against a top-10 team, that’s a big thing in itself,” Alexander said. “But, how my previous three weekends had gone up until that point were really rough on me and literally that hit … was just a sigh of relief once that ball made contact with my bat.”

Riding the momentum from the previous night, Gajewski made the decision to start Alexander in right field, where she was able to get on base three times and not record an out at the plate.

In her previous two years in the program, Alexander had been an off and on starter and she said she was striving to get better so she could crack the starting lineup full time.

“It’s my third year of it being like that and I thought it would get easier, but it doesn’t get any easier,” Alexander said. “It’s just reminding myself that that's the kind of player that I am. I’m a hard worker and that’s the whole reason why I am where I am today.”

However, she has been used primarily as a pinch-runner this season, coming in during high-pressure situations.

Even though Alexander said she has been working hard to become the starter, her role off the bench is key and she is willing to do anything to help her team win as many games as possible.

Gajewski said the entire staff and the rest of the team were excited to see her get that hit because of her two productive years in the program.

“Chelsea’s all in for OSU and she always has been,” Gajewski said, “She bleeds orange so she’s gonna do anything it takes to help this team win.”

Alexander said she hopes to use these last two performances as a springboard for the rest of the season, while continuing to work hard to see more playing time. 

“I have a lot of support and having good conversations with the coaches and just reminding myself that I have nothing to lose,” Alexander said, “Just go out there and play, whatever my role is, as long as I am helping the team, that’s what I want to be doing.”

“I told Hayley Busby the other day … things work themselves out, just trusting the process and knowing things will end up how they should be.”

 Sports.ed@ocolly.com