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Cowgirls OKC-bound after 2-0 victory against Texas

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Naomi

Kiley Naomi on second during the Cowgirls rally for 2 runs.

It was raucous when Avery Hobson stepped into the batter’s box in the fifth inning.

The fans in the outfield decks slapped their hands against the left field wall. The chants of “O-S-U” bounced from the bleachers behind home plate and the thud of second baseman Karli Petty’s helmet when she was hit by a ball still echoed two at-bats later.

With runners on second and third – the first time Oklahoma State had this situation Sunday – Hobson delivered. A bloop single into center gave the Cowgirls the lead in a scoreless game.

On Sunday, OSU defeated Texas 2-0 in game 3 of the NCAA Super Regional at Cowgirl Stadium in Stillwater, advancing to the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City.

"It was a grind," OSU shortstop Kiley Naomi said. "But we knew that we could pull it out if we just kept that energy on our end."

Hobson’s single was only the second hit for the Cowgirls on Sunday, but it was ultimately the deciding one. The inning started with back-to-back hit by pitches. Third baseman Sydney Pennington took a ball off her left leg, and Petty took one to her head.

It was a concerning moment, as coach Kenny Gajewski checked on her as she slowly walked down the line to first, but she seemed more angry than injured. She remained in the game, and was advanced to second when catcher Reagan Wright hit a sacrifice bunt.

Then, with some tension in the air, and the Cowgirls in their first scoring opportunity of the game, Hobson hit her single.

Left fielder Chelsea Alexander hit next, laying down a bunt single, scoring Petty for the other run of the game.

Up to this point, the Cowgirl offense had been stymied by Texas pitcher Shea O’Leary. She started for the second consecutive day on Sunday, after defeating the Cowgirls on Saturday and continued to make things difficult.

Through the first four innings, O’Leary faced just 13 batters, allowing one hit and one walk. Even after the 2-run fifth inning, O’Leary only saw three batters in the sixth.

Her counterpart, OSU pitcher Carrie Eberle, threw a four-hit shutout with a walk and three strikeouts, forcing the majority of Texas batters to ground out.

"It is all about finding a way to win in these game 3's, and that is what we did," Eberle said. "We played some small-ball, got a big hit from Avery when it mattered, and played the best defense you could ask for behind me today."

The Longhorns had chances to score, but failed each time to drive in runs. In the second, the Longhorns had two runners on and in the third they had runners on the corners, but each situation they couldn’t score on.

With the win, the Cowgirls return to OKC for the first time since 2019.

"I'm excited now for what is next," Gajewski said. "It is going to be a grind like it was all week."

sports.ed@ocolly.com