Jessi Haffner's complete-game victory and Miranda Cavin's three-run home run propelled the Oklahoma State softball team to a pair of victories on Saturday, as the Cowgirls took down UMKC, 8-7, and Evansville, 8-2, at Cowgirl Stadium.
“Great day for Cowgirl softball today,” head coach Rich Wieligman said. “Winning a close game [against UMKC] gave us the confidence we needed for game two. Offensively, we scored in several different ways, from home runs to squeezes, and that really helped us keep our bats alive.”
Haffner, making her first collegiate start in the circle, went the distance in the Cowgirls' first victory of the day, giving the freshman her second win on the year and her first in a starting situation. Over seven innings of work and 125 pitches overall, she allowed six earned runs on nine hits, posting four strikeouts in the process.
Offensively, the Cowgirls came out hot, scoring seven runs over the first three innings. In the first, a bases-loaded walk, a passed ball and a failed force attempt at home produced three OSU runs. In the second, Vanessa Shippy proceeded to push the lead to 5-0 with a two-RBI double to center, extending the freshman's team-leading total bases count to 33. UMKC answered with three runs in the following frame, but the Cowgirls tacked on two in bottom of the third to help keep a sizeable lead.
The Roos began to inch back, though, as they scored once in the fourth and once in the sixth. UMKC eventually pulled within one on Marlee Maples' two-run homer in the seventh, but Haffner collected herself and forced a ground out to Shippy for the final out.
Overall, Shippy (2-4, 2 RBIs) and McKee (2-3, 2B) paced the Cowgirls offensively, while Shelby Davis and Michaela Patton contributed with run-scoring hits of their own.
The narrow one-run victory kept Oklahoma State rolling into the bracket portion of the tournament, where the team earned the No. 2 seed and a matchup against third-seeded Evansville. The Cowgirls jumped on top early, as Shippy's RBI groundout and Mikkelson's run-scoring double helped produce a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first.
Oklahoma State starter Whitney Whitehorn kept the Purple Aces scoreless through two, but struggled in the third, allowing two runs on three hits in the frame. Despite taking a comebacker off the shin, Whitehorn battled through the end of the third, and handed the reigns to Brandi Needham for the remainder of the ballgame.
With the score locked at two runs apiece, the Cowgirls finally broke through in the fourth, scoring four runs on four hits. Mikkelson led off the inning with a walk, stole second and came around to score on McKee's single up the middle. Three batters later, Miranda Cavin drove a 2-1 fastball high toward the batters' eye in center, getting under it just enough to put over the wall and give the Cowgirls a 6-2 advantage.
With a four-run lead in hand, Oklahoma State provided some insurance in the following frame, using back-to-back doubles from Mikkelson and Collins to push the home side's lead to 8-2.
In the circle, Needham was masterful in relief, allowing only three runners to reach base over the final four innings. The performance earned the sophomore her team-leading fourth victory, while also fueling the Cowgirls to tomorrow's championship game.
“Whitehorn and Needham combined for well-pitched game today,” Wieligman said. “They didn't allow any walks and let our defense play. I felt like it was a solid day, overall, and we should be able to build on these wins.”
Offensively, the Cowgirls were led by another solid performance from Davis (3-4, 2 SB), as well as a two-RBI effort from Mikkelson and a two-hit outing from McKee. Davis pushed her season stolen base count to 20, pushing her to within 32 of the all-time OSU record.
Tomorrow's championship game will begin at 11 a.m., with the Cowgirls taking on UMKC for the tournament title.