OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma State rolled past Texas and into Saturday’s Big 12 Championship game with a 6-1 win against the Longhorns Friday afternoon at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium.
Following the semifinal victory, the second-seeded Cowgirls (40-12) will face top-seed Oklahoma with a conference title on the line at 2 p.m. Saturday on ESPN2. But OSU’s fourth win over Texas (38-17-1) in 2022 came only after a healthy dose of early fanfare.
The Cowgirls scored two runs in the bottom of the first inning, each in coming on a play in which OSU runners initially were ruled out before video review correctly overturned the call on the field.
Following the second review — for an unorthodox double play that yielded OSU a second run on the overturned call — Texas coach Mike White was ejected by third base umpire Naomi Erdahl before extending his left middle finger in her direction as he exited the field, capping an fraught opening inning.
“It was wacky. It was wild. Just glad we were on that side of it,” OSU coach Kenny Gajewski said. “I can only imagine the frustration Mike felt.”
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On the other side was the Longhorns’ fourth-year coach, ejected from the game for arguing with umpires following the second review and mockingly clapping at Erdahl from the third base coaches box.
“I would like to apologize to everyone involved including the Big 12 Conference, Oklahoma State, my softball team and all Texas fans for my actions after being ejected,” White said in a statement released following the game.
“Out of frustration I did something while leaving the field of play that I regret, and I hope that my apology will be accepted for my uncharacteristic indiscretion … I am an intense competitor by nature, and in the heat of the moment I made a rash decision which I truly regret.”
The first-inning fracas overshadowed a masterful showing in the circle by Cowgirl Morgan Day, who improved to 10-4 this spring in her sixth complete game of the season.
The graduate transfer’s Big 12 Tournament debut mirrored her April 24 outing against the Longhorns, when Day allowed one run on seven hits with no walks in five innings to complete a series sweep. On Friday, Day stymied Texas once again, walking none and giving up six hits in seven innings pitched, her lone blemish on the afternoon a solo shot off the bat of Mia Scott in the fourth inning.
“I think today I really felt the sense of trust,” Day said. “I mean, I really got to credit the defense because I knew that they trusted that I was going to execute my pitches to where they could make a play. And I trusted that I would be able to throw it and have them make a play.”
With 10 hits — OSU’S most since April 20 — the Cowgirls’ offense provided Day all the support she needed.
Back-to-back singles from Chelsea Alexander (2-for-4, one run) and Chyenne Factor gave OSU runners on first and third with no outs in the top of the first. On Miranda Elish’s ground ball to Texas pitcher Hailey Dolcini (19-8), Alexander was tagged out several feet up the third base line in a collision with Mary Iakopo, the Longhorns’ catcher, before the call was overturned upon an OSU challenge.
“We clearly see on review that (Iakopo) had been in an obstructive path,” Big 12 umpire coordinator Sally Walker told a pool reporter postgame. “(She) clearly had the runner obstructed so the call was overturned. The run scores based on the obstruction call.”
Elish reached on a fielder’s choice and advanced to second base on the play. Four pitches later, Sydney Pennington lined a fly ball to centerfielder Alyssa Popelka and Factor tagged from third to score. But Elish never returned to second base and was doubled up on Texas’ throw to second, initially canceling out Factor’s run.
On OSU’s second challenge of the inning, Gajewski and the Cowgirls were again successful.
“We went to review and as soon as the run scores and the subsequent third out of the inning was made at second base, that’s a timing play,” Walker said. “Because the run scored before the third out, the run does count. That’s what video review confirmed.”
Taylor Tuck’s sacrifice fly and Brianna Evans’ RBI bunt single tacked on two more runs in the fourth inning. And Factor, who went 2-for-4 with a run and two RBI, padded the advantage with her two-run double in the sixth inning.
For a second straight spring Saturday, OSU will meet the Sooners in the conference title game. “I think it’s a great opportunity for the state of Oklahoma to show everyone why this is the softball capital of the world,” Gajewski said.
OKLAHOMA STATE 6, TEXAS 1
Dolcini, Simpson (6) and Iakopo; Day and Tuck. W: Day (10-4). L: Dolcini (19-8). HR: UT, Scott (3).