Big bats boost Cowgirls in Mizuno Classic doubleheader

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OSU second baseman Karli Petty hits a single during the No. 14 Oklahoma State vs. Missouri State softball game on Friday, March 6, 2020 at Cowgirl Stadium in Stillwater.

Throughout the season, coach Kenny Gajewski said he wanted his batters to continue to produce better at-bats in the box.

The Oklahoma State softball team’s lineup certainly delivered Friday, scoring 22 combined runs  in its two doubleheader games against Missouri State and Murray State.

The Cowgirls scored 12 runs alone in the first inning against Missouri State (7-9) on their way to a 15-1 run-rule victory in their opening game of the Mizuno Classic.

Gajewski said he was excited about the way his team has been preparing in recent weeks, especially at the plate.

“I thought the offense was the story here today, obviously we scored 12 (runs) in the first in that first game, I think that kind of set the tone,” Gajewski said, “The last couple of weeks, they’ve really been working, really been grinding and it’s showing.”

In the second game, the Cowgirls (15-5) got off to a slow start but opened the scoring in the third inning and pulled away at the end to secure a 7-3 victory against Murray State.

The Racers (11-8) started Jenna Veber against OSU. She was effective early in the game, but started to falter after two innings and did not make it through the fourth inning.

Meanwhile, Kelly Maxwell and Logan Simunek combined to give up just two earned runs in their seven innings of work for OSU.

Maxwell started the game striking out eight of the first nine batters, before finishing the game with nine in 4 2/3 innings of work.

The redshirt freshman has been stellar for OSU this season, but when she has run into trouble, it has been her walking too many batters.

That’s exactly what happened Friday as she was perfect through three innings, but walked four batters in her next two innings, including a bases-loaded walk that brought in a Murray State run.

Gajewski said Maxwell had some issues mechanically late in her outing that affected some of her pitches.

“She’s hitting her arm on her side and she couldn’t get herself right and that’s why she started to fall apart,” Gajewski said, “We were trying to get it fixed out there but it’s hard to do it in a game and I just felt like we should make the change.”

In the fourth inning, Murray State pushed across a run to keep it close until the bottom half of the inning.

After getting two runners on base via a double and an HBP, Karli Petty launched a towering home run to right-center field that had no problem clearing the wall as well as the spectators behind it.

The three-run homer was the first of her career and gave OSU a lead it would never relinquish.

“I was just trying to make sure my foot was down, and I was hitting the ball hard,” Petty said, “I feel like it gave me a lot of confidence especially since I’ve been struggling in the past couple of games… I feel like it’s helped me get my confidence back up.”

The Cowgirls have been effective at stealing bases all season, but Friday they swiped three bases against Murray State and Gajewski said it all had to do with the right matchup.

“When I watched the catcher throw down, I just thought that was somebody we’d be able to run on,” Gajewski said, “You just kind of look at who you’re playing and what you’re doing and make things happen.”

With the perfect 2-0 start to the weekend, OSU has four more games in the Mizuno Classic and Gajewski said he hopes Petty can use the momentum from her home run to boost her in the upcoming games.

“She puts so much pressure on herself, we actually gave her a water bottle today and it was labeled ‘Loose juice’,” Gajewski said, “I told her she needs to drink that after every inning. She needs to have a little of the loose juice so maybe she’ll buy into that.”

Sports.ed@ocolly.com