STILLWATER, Okla. – Four unearned runs in the game’s first two innings proved to be the difference, as 7-seed Oklahoma State downed 10-seed Clemson, 5-1, in the final game of the Stillwater Super Regional. With the win, the Cowgirls advance to the Women’s College World Series, while the Tigers’ third season ends with a 42-17 record.
Oklahoma State took advantage of the Clemson defense early in the first. The lead off, Chelsea Alexander, struck out swinging but was able to reach on a passed ball. She advanced around to third off two passed balls and was brought home as the Tigers made the first out of the inning at first. The Cowgirls managed to get one more runner on, but in an attempt to advance on the next at bat, the runner on first pushed for third. McKenzie Clark showcased her arm strength fielding a grounder in center and easily making the throw to allow Maddie Moore to tag the runner sliding into third to end the inning.
The Tigers made a push to even things with a two-out rally in the bottom half of the inning as Valerie Cagle walked and Marissa Guimbarda hit a single into shallow center. Both were left stranded as freshman Aby Vieira got under one and just missed it leaving the park as the left fielder made the catch for the final out.
The Cowgirls extended their lead in the second off three consecutive errors by the Tigers. OSU plated three runs before the Tigers were able to end the inning with a 6-3-5 double play to take a 4-0 lead after two.
The Tigers got a run back in the third after Clark sent her 12th homer of the season out of center field with one out. The Cowgirls responded in the top of the next inning with a solo shot of their own, and Clemson wasn’t able to capitalize after runners got aboard to allow Oklahoma State to keep the four-run advantage.
In the bottom of the sixth, graduate transfer Sam Russ hit a single down the left field line with one out to get a baserunner for the Tigers. She got a solid jump off first during Arielle Oda’s at bat to steal her 29th base on the year and 132nd of her collegiate career. Oda drew a walk of her own to put two on with one out and force Oklahoma State to go to its bullpen with Kelly Maxwell who picked up two outs to force Clemson to leave two runners stranded.
The Cowgirls made another strong push in the top of the seventh to get two runners on but were forced to leave them stranded as Cagle picked up a strikeout and the Clemson defense held tough to get out of the inning. The Clemson offense attempted to come back in the seventh but weren’t able to capitalize as the Cowgirls took the game to advance to the Women’s College World Series.
Cagle pitched her second complete game of the postseason, allowing just one earned run (four unearned) on six hits with four strikeouts and one walk.
Clemson and Notre Dame have released depth charts ahead of this weekend’s matchup at Death Valley.
For the second time this season, Clemson will be an underdog at home.
Despite Clemson’s astonishing loss to Miami, the Tigers will head to Raleigh next week favored over NC State.