STILLWATER — After defeating Nebraska 5-2, Oklahoma State second baseman Rachel Becker and outfielder Tallen Edwards flanked their head coach, Kenny Gajewski, at a postgame press conference.
It was an interesting juxtaposition.
Becker, a 22-year-old transfer from Purdue who turns 23 in three weeks, just drove in the go-ahead runs. Her at-bat was only spurred by Edwards, an 18-year-old freshman who technically is supposed to be graduating from Southmoore High School this week, singling at the top of the inning.
A year ago, Becker graduated from Purdue with a degree in chemical engineering. Edwards was rushing through summer courses to finish high school early.
Yet, despite the completely different paths, it was the first career appearances in a NCAA Regional for the two.
And they shined. Batting leadoff, Becker went 3-for-8, scoring five runs while Edwards completed the weekend 5-for-9 with two RBIs.
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“What we’ve been talking about for a while through all of our downfalls was having a team-first mindset,” Edwards said. “Every inning I was playing with a team-first mindset. I don’t really care what I do, let’s just score.”
More importantly, the Cowgirls appeared to get back on track. After their worst skid of the season, OSU is suddenly stringing together the kind of ballgames they’ve been seeking. Strong pitching, even stronger defense and a healthy amount of offense.
OSU (44-14) strolled through regionals, going undefeated and outscoring opponents 20-2. The complete showings propelled OSU into its fourth consecutive NCAA Super Regional, where they will host Oregon in a best-of-three series this weekend.
“When I took this job, I never thought, ‘OK, we’re going to go to four in a row,’” Gajewski said. “I didn’t think about any of that stuff. I figured we’d be good because I’d been around some great people. But you just never know.”
OSU enjoyed the offensive contributions from Becker and Edwards, but they didn’t end there. Shortstop Kiley Naomi and first baseman Micaela Wark bolstered the scoring efforts with home runs against UMBC.
Morgyn Wynne recorded a hit in all three games, scoring two runs.
Defensively, the Cowgirls didn’t commit an error over the weekend, the first three-game stretch in more than a month OSU went error-free. In the circle, OSU’s pitching staff struck out 28 batters and walked only three.
The defense kept runs off the board, too. Megan Bloodworth shined against Wichita State, recording several highlight-reel outs.
Outside of two runs scoring on wild pitches, pitchers Kelly Maxwell and Lexi Kilfoyl dominated.
“Those are kind of the things we focused on this whole week,” Gajewski said.
Overall, it was the return to form OSU was looking for.
It came after the Cowgirls lost 11 of their last 13 games. There was a four-error performance against Kansas in the Big 12 Tournament. Three consecutive losses to Oklahoma and a brutal 5-1 loss against North Texas came earlier.
Now, momentum is back in OSU’s favor.
“I actually learned a lot about our team against Kansas (in the Big 12 Tournament),” Gajewski said. “We fought, and we ended up throwing it up. But we fought. I knew at that moment we’ve just got to dial it in a little click.
“I learned a lot losing 11 of our last 13. That’s where I really learned.”