With Show gone, Cowgirls looking to reload in the circle

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Cowgirl Logan Simunek screams during the Oklahoma State vs. Oklahoma softball game on May 31, 2019, in Oklahoma City. The No. 1 Sooners defeated the No. 13 Cowgirls 6-1 for their second win of the 2019 Women's College World Series. (DEVIN LAWRENCE WILBER/O'Colly)

Last season, Samantha Show transferred to Oklahoma State and stole the show both in the circle and at the plate.

However, with Show now on the coaching staff, coach Kenny Gajewski brought in Virginia Tech transfer Carrie Eberle to fill the void left by Show. Eberle doesn’t quite bring the same presence at the plate, but she is arguably a better pitcher in the circle and could anchor an improved pitching staff.

Eberle was the ACC Pitcher of the Year in 2019, with an ERA of 1.84 in 201.1 innings

“She’s been as advertised, and she’s been really good” Gajewski said, “She’s just constantly in search of getting better, and I think that’s what coach John (Bargfeldt) is really seeing, too, is just she’s not afraid to learn and grow.”

While Eberle is probably going to be the No. 1 starter, Gajewski said he was just as impressed with freshman Kelly Maxwell, who was an Under Armour All-American in high school but redshirted last season.

“I think she’s pitched as good as Carrie has all fall up to right now,” Gajewski said, “We’ve got quite a battle going with those two, you know Kelly has been striking kids out like we haven’t had here in my time.”

One of two returning Cowgirl pitchers from last season is Logan Simunek. She pitched well last season, mainly in relief, sporting a 3.42 ERA with 51 strikeouts in 84 innings.

Simunek is not only one of the most experienced pitchers on the roster, but is also one of the only four-year seniors on OSU’s roster. Simunek said her game has grown tremendously in her four years and is proud of the strides the program has made since her freshman year.

“My freshman year we were just here, and if we won it was like 'great job, we won'," Simunek said, “And now, in my senior year, we know we’re going to win, and we expect to win, and that’s all we’re going to do is win.”

Along with Simunek, Gabby Sprang returns to the Cowgirls. Sprang is a former transfer herself, coming in from Tennessee before last season and was ranked as the top overall pitcher in her recruiting class in 2017.

Last season, she pitched 31.1 innings and had a 3.57 ERA, but has been hurt for most of the offseason, so it remains to be seen if she will be ready to play when the season starts. Sprang is a valuable relief pitcher for the Cowgirls when healthy, as she 15 strikeouts in 31.1 inings.

The only other who may see playing time this season is Mattison Boyd. While she is just a freshman, coach Gajewski said she shows potential, but has been erratic at times during the fall.  

It is unlikely that Boyd will see much playing time behind the four other pitchers, but she could see a few innings this season if she can reign in the control issues.

Following a 2019 season that saw Show pitch most of the big innings, Gajewski will have three legitimate starters and an ace in Eberle, who will try to lead the Cowgirls back to the Women’s College World Series in June.

“I’m very pleased with this group,” Gajewski said, “They seem to be very close; they’ve really bought into John (Bargfeldt) from day one, and everything he’s talked with them about. I’ve seen growth and that’s what it’s all about.”

sports.ed@ocolly.com