Katie Cimusz could hardly contain her laughter.
Standing in left field, Cimusz tried to focus on the game. Instead, a fraction of Texas’ left fielder’s attention directed behind her, toward the outfield decks of Cowgirl Stadium and the pestering OSU softball fans eager to disrupt the opposition's concentration.
Cowgirl stadium typically seats 450 people, but since the 2018 season, OSU added three wooden decks beyond the walls of the outfield. With the addition of the decks, the total capacity of Cowgirl stadium increased to hold over one thousand people.
The origin of the decks began as a way for parents and fans to watch games from a different vantage point, but now created a home field advantage at Cowgirl Stadium.
During the 2018 season, Matt Fletcher, the husband of former player and current OSU assistant coach Vanessa Shippy, went to his garage, compiled pieces of wood and crafted three benches. Feltcher, along with 11 other friends and family members of the OSU softball team, stood on the benches and watched the game along the left field fences.
With the season’s conclusion and after many more fans joined the original crew on the benches, OSU head coach Kenny Gajewski invested in his supporters’ enjoyment, building the two large decks which now sit in the grass beyond the left field wall.
“Eventually it turned into such a good environment that Kenny (Gajewski) got the money together and built these decks,” Fletcher said. “It is so much fun. We even make it into the scouting report, they mention ‘left field is going to talk to you, you have to be ready for it.’”
Four years later, Fletcher and those who occupy the left field decks continue to heckle and mock the visiting team’s outfielders.
The community built on the wooden slabs continues to grow. Fans consistently attend games, bring their own drinks and local restaurant owners bring food to serve food for the tight-knit faction.
Many around the program attribute the increase in fan attendance to be in direct correlation with the team’s recent success. Gajewski took over as head coach in 2015, and has watched over his seven year tenure as crowds grow while his team improves year to year.
“These are some of the biggest crowds we’ve had here,” Gajewski said. “We sell a lot of seats and the decks are packed. This is turning into an event. This is one of the coolest tickets in town.”
For senior catcher Taylor Tuck, a Stillwater native who remembers attending games even before Gajewski’s time as the head coach, describes the surroundings as a whimsical dream.
“When I was little it was never like this,” Tuck said. “We struggled to fill up (the seats) and now it surrounds the whole stadium. There’s even a lot of little girls wanting autographs after games. It’s surreal, I’m a hometown kid and I grew up coming to these games. It means a lot to me.”
Despite the modest number of seats, Fletcher and the hundreds who reside beyond the outfield of Cowgirl stadium on spring weekends try to create an environment worth the price of admission.
“This clearly isn’t the biggest stadium,” Fletcher said. “But they found a way to add more fans and make the atmosphere more fun and competitive. This isn’t the highest attendance but teams don’t like to come here. We’re doing the right thing.”