(CATHEDRAL CITY, California / February 21, 2019) – The No. 20 Oklahoma State softball team swept its first two games of the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic Thursday, besting No. 13 Arizona State, 2-0, and North Carolina, 7-5, on the tournament's opening day.
Thursday's victory over the Sun Devils was the second time this season that OSU (9-3; 0-0 Big 12) has defeated a top-15 opponent, and the first time the Cowgirls shutout a team ranked in the top 15 since besting then-No. 1 Florida, 1-0, on May 21, 2017, in Gainesville, Florida.
"To start this tournament 2-0, for us, is a better start than last year and that's something we talked to this team about," coach Kenny Gajewski said. "I'm proud of the way - we had a long day yesterday - we bounced back from that, made no excuses and just came out here and played. That's what good teams do."
Against ASU, the Cowgirls struggled early at the plate, going down on strikes six times across the first two frames. OSU's first seven baserunners reached either via walk or a hit by pitch as the Cowgirls were kept off the board through the first three-plus innings.
Sydney Springfield and Sydney Pennington were the final pair of that seven in the top of the fourth, with each wearing a pitch to start the inning. They both moved up a bag on a passed ball, which Michaela Richbourg followed with OSU's first hit of the day - an RBI single through the left side.
Richbourg also supplied the second Oklahoma State run of Thursday's shutout win, as she laced a solo home run over the left-field fence in the top of the sixth. It was Richbourg's third home run of the season, and the fifth of her young Cowgirl career.
In the circle, Samantha Show delivered her third complete game of the season, striking out three and walking only one in the shutout showing. Show also threw a one-run complete game against California in her last start, making her the first Cowgirl to throw back-to-back complete games since Samantha Clakley in April 2018.
"We got off to a good start in that first game against Arizona State and I thought that Sam Show was really good," Gajewski said. "We came up with some big hits and just enough to make some things happen. We still need to get better with some defensive plays, but I feel like we're getting better all the way through."
Show's efforts as a pitcher in Thursday's opener were arguably surpassed by the shift she put in at the plate in the matchup with North Carolina that followed.
The senior got things rolling right from the start for the Pokes, as she smacked an 0-2 pitch well beyond the fence in left field to give OSU the early edge in the top of the first. Show came back again in the second inning and nearly produced the same result with a liner to center, but she'd have to settle for a two-run double that scorched off the top of the center-field fence.
The run-producing efforts from the two-way star wrapped up in the top of the sixth, as Show skied a ball that crossed the fence just inside the left-field foul pole, giving OSU a 6-1 edge near the game's end.
Show is currently batting .326 with four home runs and 13 runs batted in, all of which are tops among the Cowgirls. She has logged 14 total hits so far this season, with nine of those resulting in extra bases.
"It's just fun to watch her compete and to have her on this team," Gajewski said. "I think she's helping a lot of our other kids as well with the way she competes. She had a big game again with her bat, and it was fun to watch her hit the two home runs. I just feel like we weren't as clean in that second game, but it's good to win games when you're not clean."
North Carolina didn't go down without a fight though, despite Show and others' efforts at the plate and in the field.
The Tar Heels scrapped across three runs in the bottom of the sixth to cut into the Cowgirl lead, making things interesting headed to the final frame. In the seventh, Raquel Dominguez laced a single back up the middle, scoring Taylor Lynch from third, to provide the Cowgirls a late insurance run.
UNC scored one more in the home half of the seventh, but Logan Simunek shut the door on her third win of the season with a vicious strikeout. Simunek pitched six innings in total against the Tar Heels, striking out three and allowing six hits while in the circle.
The Cowgirls' week at the prestigious Nutter Classic will continue with two more top-notch matchups on Friday, as the Cowgirls square off with San Diego State at 12 p.m. CT followed by a meeting with No. 14 Arizona at 5 p.m. CT. OSU bested the Wildcats in the top-25 programs' last encounter, 9-4, on opening day of the 2018 season last year.
Cowgirls Blank No. 13 Arizona State, Defeat North Carolina
February 22, 2019 by OSU Athletics