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Clean sweep: Cowgirls defeat Longhorns, Pennington nearly dents car

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O'C Cowgirl Softball v. Iowa State-17.jpg

OSU senior Carrie Eberle winds up during Saturday's game of the Oklahoma State vs. Iowa State softball series on April 3, 2021 at Cowgirl Stadium in Stillwater.

A collision between either third baseman Sydney Pennington and a teammate or the ball and the infield grass would have spelled trouble.

Oklahoma State beat Texas 6-4 on Sunday afternoon in Austin. With the win, the No. 9 Cowgirls swept the No. 12 Longhorns over the weekend and moved to 39-6.

A victory, however, hung in the balance in the sixth inning. With two runners on and two outs, junior UT catcher Mary Iakopo hit a high pop-up in the infield hit directed in the general direction of Pennington.

“It was very important,” Pennington said. “There were two outs at the time with runners going from second base and third base. I think there was just a little bit of miscommunication in the infield.”

In the end, the only collision on that play would be between the softball and Pennington’s mitt. She warded off her incoming teammates and made the catch. Iakopo was retired and the Longhorn scoring threat extinguished.

“It was a ball I should have called right off the bat,” Pennington said. “Last second I kind of stuck my glove out under the ball and caught it. I don’t want to say it was lucky, but it definitely wasn’t a pretty clean play.”

Regardless of the plays dubious start, one thing that was decidedly not luck based was the result of the game. OSU grinded out another gritty win to sweep Texas.

Senior pitcher Carrie Eberle started the game and pitched four innings, giving up two runs. Both senior pitcher Logan Simunek and sophomore pitcher Kelly Maxwell entered in relief. 

“We wanted to get Logan some work,” Gajewski said. “We felt like they were maybe seeing a couple of things on Logan that you want to change. We put Kelly in and did what she hoped she would do. Finish the game out.”

The pair pitched well, surrendering no runs and giving the offense a chance to jump ahead.

One player who took advantage of that opportunity was Pennington.

Her deep smash over the left field wall in the third inning with two runners on was the most critical hit of the afternoon.

It plated herself, senior designated player Haley Busby and junior shortstop Naomi. Cowgirls, and almost scored an unfortunate owner of a white vehicle a fresh dent.

“I was trying to be a little bit more aggressive that at bat,” Pennington said. “My first one I felt like was a little bit timid, so I just went out and tried to hit it hard...I think it landed behind (the white vehicle). It felt good off the bat. I was just hoping it would stay fair.”

The home run moved Pennington into sole possession of second place of OSU’s all-time home run record. 

“She’s a great player,” Gajewski said. “She’s a great Cowgirl. She just gives us everything. That’s what you want. I’m happy for her.”

The win punctuated OSU’s fourth sweep of the year against a Big 12 opponent — a remarkable feat. 

“(Sweeping) is really hard,” Pennington said. “It’s a grind. Just going back and forth the whole time and utilizing every player that we have and really trying to grind it out till the very last out. “It’s hard to beat teams three times in three days.”

The Cowgirls can now finish no worse the second in the conference and have put themselves in great position to host in the postseason.

“Sweeps are huge,” Gajewski said. “We’ve got big things in mind for this team and we needed a sweep to put us in that conversation. Just really proud of the way these kids played and continued to really grind. That’s what it’s all about.”

sports.ed@ocolly.com