The Oklahoma State softball team split its first two games at the Mizuno Classic on Friday, as the Cowgirls fell to UConn, 8-2, but took down Evansville, 18-7, at Cowgirl Stadium.
“Offensively, I really liked what I saw in that first game,” head coach Rich Wieligman said. “We did a good job of taking advantage of their errors, and we had some timely hits. The second game didn't play out like we planned, though, and that shows that we've still got plenty of things to work on.”
Against Evansville, the Cowgirls (6-12) pounded out 18 runs on ten hits, providing the entirety of their offense over the final four innings. Oklahoma State scored six in the third before posting four runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings.
Before the offensive outburst, Oklahoma State fell behind, 3-0, after Evansville scored twice in the first and once in the third. The Purple Aces saw success against OSU starter Brandi Needham, as five of the Purple Aces' seven hits came in the first three frames. Needham eventually left the circle after the third, scattering two strikeouts in with her no-decision.
The Cowgirls finally pulled through in the third, beginning with Vanessa Shippy's two-RBI single with the bases loaded. Two batters later, Tiffany Mikkelson ripped a double to left-center, scoring both Shippy and Shianne Hughes. Dre McKee's single through the right side marked a string of eight-consecutive Cowgirls who reached base, and capped off the final score of OSU's six-run inning.
The lead wouldn't last for long, though, as Evansville roared back and tied the game in the top of the fourth. Chandra Parr knocked a two-run homer over the right field fence, and Ashlee Kawall scored after Shippy's throw to first on a double play attempt sailed wide.
However, Oklahoma State would take the lead for good in the bottom of the fourth, as the Cowgirls capitalized on three Evansville errors over the course of the inning. Mallory Collins also provided an RBI single before the Cowgirls were finally brought to a halt.
Over the next two innings, the bulk of the Cowgirls' attack came through the long ball, beginning with McKee's two-run homer in the fifth. On a 1-0 pitch, McKee pulled an inside fastball over the left field wall, bringing home Darcy Taylor and giving OSU a 14-7 lead.
With the Cowgirls only one run away from run-ruling the Purple Aces, Mikkelson came to the plate in the sixth with the bases loaded and launched a 1-0 delivery off the batter's eye in center, giving Oklahoma the walk-off victory. The moonshot home run was Mikkelson's third in as many games, and capped off a six-RBI day for the junior.
Overall, Shelby Davis (2-4, 3 R, 2 SB), Shippy (2-4, 3 R, 2 RBIs), Mikkelson (2-4, 6 RBIs) Collins (2-4, 3 RBIs) and McKee (2-4, 3 RBIs) finished with multi-hit efforts. Relief pitcher Jessi Haffner earned the victory after providing three innings of one-run ball.
In the second half of Friday's slate, UConn cooled the Cowgirls' hot bats behind a complete-game outing from Lauren Duggan and several standout defensive plays. Duggan also registered two RBIs for the Huskies' offensive attack, and held the home side to five hits over the course of the game.
Despite keeping the Cowgirls within reaching distance, starter Meagan Lively was chased after allowing four runs and six hits over the first four innings. Haffner came on in relief and kept the Huskies scoreless through three innings of work, but Oklahoma State was unable to break through against Duggan, and eventually fell, 8-2. Collins (2-3, R) tacked on her second multi-hit effort of the day to highlight the Cowgirls on offense.
The Cowgirls will return to action on Saturday, beginning with a 1:30 p.m. matchup with UMKC at Cowgirl Stadium. Oklahoma State will then play at either 4:30 p.m. or 7 p.m., depending on seeding.