Coming into Monday night, Oklahoma State was one win away from their first ever Women’s College World Series Championship Series appearance.
They got two shots at it; but failed to clinch their side of the bracket.
“It hurts... had it right there, you could feel it,” OSU coach Kenny Gajewski said.
The Cowgirls lost the second game of their doubleheader to Texas on Monday night by a score of 6-5, as what originally looked like a runaway game for the 7th ranked team in the country turned into a prompt heartbreak.
After three innings, the Cowgirls found themselves up 5-0, with standout ace pitcher, Kelly Maxwell riding high, and huge at-bats ending in homeruns from Kiley Naomi and Karli Petty putting them in a great position.
“We come out in the second game, and we get a 5-0 lead with Kelly and I’m feeling pretty good, not gonna lie,” Gajewski said. “I mean who wouldn’t be?”
Then– the nosedive.
Texas' designated player, Courtney Day hit a three-run home run in the top of the fourth inning, giving the Longhorns a much-needed energy boost. Then, after the Cowgirls came up scoreless in the bottom half of the inning, the Longhorns were back on offense in the top of the fifth, with their outnumbered crowd feeling the momentum shift, when suddenly– all hell broke loose.
With two runners on, Bella Dayton stepped into the batter’s box, looking to slice into the Cowgirls lead. She then singled to right field, sending one runner home, as the ball was being thrown to Cowgirl first baseman, Hayley Busby.
Busby then made the error of all errors.
She threw the ball to Kiley Naomi, who was covering second base, only she fired it to the left of the shortstop, causing the ball to roll all the way to the center field wall, sending one run home, before Dayton headed home herself.
What was Longhorn coach, Mike White thinking during this crazed sequence?
“Run,” said White.
That’s exactly what his team did, as after the three-run-inside-the-park homerun, the momentum was all in Texas’ favor, as they suddenly had the lead deep in an elimination game for a Championship Series berth.
“It was a big moment, definitely a momentum shift in our energy as a team,” Day said.
The Cowgirls were stunned, and so was the OSU-dominant crowd, who suddenly felt like the away-team to the much smaller Longhorn fan base.
“It’s kind of ironic because we’ve been shooting ourselves in the foot all year,” White said. “Especially against OSU.”
From there on out, the Longhorns kept their head above water, not allowing any more runs and letting standout pitcher, Hailey Dolcini, guide the way for their second consecutive victory.
“We let it get away from us... credit Texas, they took advantage when we didn’t. It is what it is,” Cowgirl leftfielder, Chelsea Alexander said.
Coming into this game, the Cowgirls only had two errors throughout the entire NCAA Tournament. Then, it the biggest game of the season they tied a season-high with three errors, with them coming in a glaring fifth inning mishap, as their national title hopes seemed to diminish in the span of less than thirty seconds. In Gajewski’s mind though, it wasn’t just about the errors.
“We could look back at that one play cause it had so much implication, but it didn’t cost us the game. We just didn’t score enough runs,” Gajewski said.
“It’s gonna hurt, it’s gonna hurt for a long time... and it should hurt."