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Pitcher Perfection: Infield style

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OSU pitcher Carrie Eberle during the Oklahoma State vs. Wichita State softball game on Wednesday, March 11, 2020 at Cowgirl Stadium in Stillwater.

Carrie Eberle hardly moved.

Maia Wark swung at a pitch from OSU senior pitcher Eberle to lead off the inning. The UNT freshman outfielder hit a slow chopper that bounced right back to the pitcher. Eberle cleanly caught the ball lobbed to first for the easy out.

When the pitching is dominant, oftentimes there is not a whole lot for fielders to do. And it can’t get any more dominant than a perfect game.

Oklahoma State beat North Texas 5-0 on Wednesday in Stillwater. Both halves of OSU’s excellent pitching duo of Eberle and sophomore pitcher Kelly Maxwell were showcased in the best possible fashion – a perfect game.

“It was perfect,” coach Kenny Gajewski said. “No runs, no hits, no errors, no walks — It’s called a perfect game and that’s exactly what it was. A dominant performance from those two. That’s who they’ve been, that’s what they’ve been doing this whole year. It was really cool to see.”

It was a combined effort to reach perfection.

Eberle started the game for the Cowgirls. She worked three perfect innings, recording all her outs via ground balls and strikeouts. When she was relieved in the top of the fourth by Maxwell, not a single UNT batter had reached first base.

The Mean Green offense could not muster anything against Maxwell either. In her four innings of work, Maxwell allowed just one ball into the outfield. An error free defense and few hard-hit balls contributed to the shut-down performance.

“That’s who we’ve been through most of the year to be very honest,” Gajewski said. “We’ve had two poor games on the defensive side. As a coach it's really irritating when that happens but to play 28 games and to play 26 of them with one or less errors is a really good performance.”

The first 20 outs recorded by OSU were via the strikeout or groundout — a remarkable stat.

“It’s really unheard of,” Maxwell said. “Normally it takes everyone on the defense to help you out in those types of situations, so pretty cool for only one ball to get out there.”

Maxwell considers herself more of a strikeout or flyball pitcher. For only one ball to reach the grass was quite a change, but not an unwelcome one.

“Honestly, I kind of like it like that,” junior centerfielder Cheyanne Factor said. “That means the pitchers are doing good”

The final out, a lazy fly ball off the bat of UNT senior catcher Tarah Hilton, was caught by Chelsea Alexander. With the cushion that the OSU batting lineup delivered, it was a complete performance.

Haley Busby smoked a home run in the bottom of the fifth. The only two things that the softball connected with on its journey from the pitcher to the promised land was Busby’s bat and the trunk of a tree in right-center field.

That was OSU’s fourth run of the game, and they added one more on a double from OSU junior shortstop Kiley Naomi to put the game in hand.

The overcast sky spitting an occasional raindrop was the backdrop for fans and players alike to take in the elite pitching and good batting. It made for a memorable game to be a part of for the players and fans.

“A really cool night and a really cool moment in the program's history,” Gajewski said.