(STILLWATER, Oklahoma / January 29, 2019) – The reasons to be excited for Oklahoma State softball's 2019 campaign continued to grow Tuesday, as the Cowgirls were slotted at No. 22 in the USA Today/NFCA Coaches Poll and at No. 21 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25.

It is the second straight year that OSU opens the season with a top-25 ranking after the Cowgirls began 2018 at No. 24 and No. 21 in the USA Today/NFCA Coaches and ESPN.com/USA Softball rankings, respectively.

Oklahoma State is coming off a 39-22 season in which the Cowgirls earned their first top-two finish in the Big 12 since 2003 and made their third-straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament. An opening-day rout of No. 7 Arizona, the program's first three-game sweep of then-No. 16 Baylor and OSU's first series victory over Texas in Austin rank as some of the top performances from the Cowgirls a season ago.

This season, coach Kenny Gajewski and his staff return several key figures, including a trio of standout seniors in Rylee Bayless, Taylor Lynch and Madi Sue Montgomery. Also back this season are sophomore infielder Sydney Pennington, second-year Cowgirl Samantha Clakley and rising pitcher Logan Simunek.

In addition to a strong core of returning talent, Oklahoma State boasts one of the nation's premier groups of freshmen, highlighted by Kiley Naomi and Mady Lohman.

The returners and fresh faces created plenty of reason for optimism for folks within the program heading into 2019, but Gajewski and his staff weren't done quite yet, as they signed a trio of SEC transfers to truly put OSU's roster among the nation's elite.

Samantha Show, a two-way star at Texas A&M, was the first signing of the summer. She brings with her a career .283 batting average and is someone who possesses plenty of pop in her bat, racking up 47 extra-base hits in her career thus far. Show also comes to Stillwater with 2.88 ERA in 442.1 career innings pitched, and will likely feature as a workhorse arm for the Cowgirls in her final collegiate season.

Following Show's signing, LSU infielder Sydney Springfield and Tennessee pitcher Gabby Sprang joined the fold. Springfield has shown plenty of promise as a power hitter during her two seasons in the SEC, while Sprang comes to Oklahoma State just a year removed from being ranked as the No. 3 overall prospect - and top pitcher - in FloSoftball's 2017 HOT 100 recruiting rankings.

Several of OSU’s 2019 foes also found their respective names listed in Tuesday’s rankings announcements. The Cowgirls are slated to compete against teams that are either ranked or receiving votes in the NFCA’s preseason coaches poll on 26 occasions this season, highlighted by nine matchups against top-20 competition in the Big 12 Conference.

The Cowgirls’ expedition of excellence gets started quickly next weekend, as OSU opens its 2019 season Friday, Feb. 8, at the Houston Invitational in Houston, Texas. The Cowgirls will face Illinois and the hosting Cougars, who received one vote in the NFCA Coaches Poll, on opening day before clashing with Sam Houston State, the Illini again and No. 13/15 Kentucky over the weekend.