The No. 8/10 Oklahoma State softball team (10-4) unveils the newly renovated Cowgirl Stadium as it hosts its 2022 season home opener – the OSU/Tulsa Invitational – from March 4-6. The Cowgirls open the weekend with a doubleheader against Stanford on Friday; games are slated for 2:30 p.m. CT and 5 p.m. CT. Back in action on Sunday, OSU takes on DePaul at 10 a.m. CT and rounds out the weekend with Minnesota at 3 p.m.
Watch, Listen, Follow
Oklahoma State’s doubleheader with Stanford on Friday (2:30 p.m. CT and 5 p.m. CT) and its game with Minnesota on Sunday (3 p.m. CT) will be streamed on ESPN+ with Casey Kendrick and Alison McCutcheon.
All four of OSU’s games will be available on Stillwater Radio Networks at stillwaterradio.net and 105.5 KGFY on the dial with Bill Van Ness on the call. Live stats for all of OSU’s games over the weekend will be available online on okstate.statbroadcast.com.
Fans can follow @CowgirlSB on Twitter all season for regular coverage and updates.
In the Rankings
Oklahoma State ranks:
• No. 8 in the USA Today/NFCA DI Top 25 Coach Poll
• No. 8 in SoftballAmerica’s NCAA Division I Softball Top 25
• No. 9 in D1Softball’s Top 25
• No. 10 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25
Oklahoma State From a Distance
Eight starters and several other important performers are back from the 2021 team that finished No. 6 in the final rankings and played in the Women’s College World Series. Five of OSU’s returning starters were also starters on the Cowgirls’ 2019 WCWS team. Some of the most decorated players in Oklahoma State softball history are back, including returning All-Americans Hayley Busby and Sydney Pennington, plus 2022 preseason All-American Kiley Naomi. Pitcher Kelly Maxwell is on the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Watch List and was invited to try out for a spot on the U.S. Senior National Team in January. Impact newcomers include the 2020 Shortened Season National Player of the Year and first team All-American Miranda Elish, 2022 preseason All-America first baseman Morgyn Wynne, 2021 first-team All-Missouri Valley Conference pitcher Morgan Day and 2021 All-Southeast Region catcher Julia Cottrill. A talented freshman class headlined by Brianna Evans (No. 11 on the Extra Inning Softball Elite 100 and Tatum Clopton (No. 7 overall prospect in the nation, per FloSoftball) enters into the mix. Despite joining a veteran-laden team, both Evans and Clopton have already seen important game action this season.
Notable Streaks and Trends
• The Cowgirls have been ranked in the NFCA poll in each of their last 158 games, dating back to the start of the 2019 season.
• Sydney Pennington has started 221 consecutive games, which amounts to every game of her career.
• Kelly Maxwell has tallied double digit strikeouts in each of her last four starts.
• Kelly Maxwell has pitched complete game, shutout wins in her last two starts.
• OSU has outscored its last five opponents 21-4.
• OSU has held four of its last nine opponents scoreless.
• OSU has tallied five or more hits in six of its last nine games.
Series History vs. This Week’s Opponents
Stanford holds the slight edge in its series record with Oklahoma State, 6-5; the Cowgirls are undefeated against the Cardinal at home and are winners of two of the last three meetings. Although Oklahoma State and DePaul have never played at Cowgirl Stadium, OSU boasts a 6-1 series lead. OSU leads its series with Minnesota 9-6, including a 2-1 record in home contests.
Oklahoma State’s head coach, Kenny Gajewski, meets Stanford for the first time this weekend and he has won all three games against DePaul and the single contest against Minnesota in which he’s been at the reigns of Cowgirl Softball.
Kelly Maxwell continues to prove why she’s been named Oklahoma State’s ace and why she belongs in the conversation among the best arms in the country. In OSU’s most recent outing at the Reveille Classic, the lefty tossed back-to-back complete game shutout wins vs Texas A&M (Feb. 25) and Tennessee State (Feb. 27), in which she fanned a career-high 13 batters a piece, marking her third and fourth consecutive starts in which she tallied a double-digit strikeout total. While keeping her ERA at 0.00 on the weekend (tied first in the Big 12 in week three) Maxwell also kept opposing batters to a .065 average (third in the Big 12 in week three) and allowed just three hits (tied fourth in the Big 12 in week three).
D1Softball’s 2022 Preseason Shortstop of the Year rose right back to the production she’s capable of as Oklahoma State’s leadoff hitter in the team’s slate at the Reveille Classic. Kiley Naomi averaged .364 at the plate with three runs scored, four hits – most notably among them being a leadoff home run vs Tennessee State on Feb. 25 – three RBI and nine total bases. She submitted a .364 slugging percentage and a .417 on-base percentage in 11 at bats over the four-game stretch in College Station.
A trio of All-Americans headline an Oklahoma State roster loaded with talent. Pitcher and designated player Miranda Elish earned first team All-America honors from SoftballAmerica in 2020. The same publication named Sydney Pennington a second team All-American, while outfielder Hayley Busby was voted a National Fastpitch Coaches Association third team All-American.
Depth in the Lineup
Kiley Naomi returns to contribute to the Oklahoma State unit in every facet of the game. Naomi garnered preseason first team All-America honors from D1Softball and was ranked by that publication as the No. 1 shortstop in the nation ahead of the 2022 slate. At second base, Gajewski has brought in Brianna Evans from Red Oak, Texas – the lone freshman in Oklahoma State’s starting lineup – who was ranked No. 11 in the Extra Inning Softball’s Elite 100. At catcher, Julia Cottrill is a 2021 NFCA All-Region third team honoree and All-SEC Newcomer team member who brings two years of starting experience with her from Florida. Rounding out a star-studded infield, Morgyn Wynne was first team All-Big 12 at Kansas in 2021 and was named to SoftballAmerica’s 2022 preseason second team All-American squad. OSU returns a talented outfield group that includes veteran playmakers Chyenne Factor and Chelsea Alexander, who are joined by Karli Petty, a converted second basemen whose versatility has made her a viable option in the grass. The trio will be joined by a trio of speedy sophomores in Scotland David, Avery Hobson and Katelynn Carwile.
In The Works
Cowgirl Stadium features some notable updates for the 2022 season. Shortly after the conclusion of the 2021 fall season, the Pokes took demolition into their own hands as they ceremoniously tore down the outfield wall that has enclosed the ballpark since it opened in 2000. A newly constructed, padded and decorated outfield and backstop wall went in its place. The stadium also features a new artificial outfield playing surface, updated scoreboard and batter’s eye structures and additional observation decks beyond the right field wall to accommodate the Cowgirls’ growing fan base.