STILLWATER, Okla. — Oklahoma State held off Houston en route to a 6-5 victory in the decisive Game 3 of its NCAA Super Regional series on Saturday in front of 544 fans inside Cowgirl Stadium. The victory clinched OSU’s seventh Women’s College World Series appearance and the program’s first trip to the WCWS since 1998.
“It was a long day and I love our kids’ fight. They stayed in the game,” OSU coach Rich Wieligman said. “I told them yesterday, `It could be a long day, but let’s finish it.’ They played hard. They stayed in it. They didn’t get down.”
“We got behind in that second game and they never lost their poise and never lost their focus. They just kept playing.”
The Cowgirls (42-18) began the deciding contest with a three-run first inning.
Senior Alysia Hamilton got on base with a fielder’s choice and advanced to second. Junior Julie Ward switched places with Hamilton after knocking a double off the left field wall. Junior Chelsea Garcia followed with a single to left, driving Ward home. Sophomore Tamara Brown added another run when she hit the ball up the middle to plate Garcia.
Houston (44-18) responded in the bottom of the first with two runs of its own. Leadoff batter Katy Beth Sherman reached with a single and advanced on a sacrifice bunt. She scored on a single from Melissa Gregson. After a double by Brooke Lathan, Jennifer Klinkert hit a deep fly ball to left field that brought home Gregson from third.
The Cougars jumped in front in the third inning when Klinkert hit a two-run home run over the left field fence to make the score 4-3.
In the fifth inning, the Cowgirls regained the lead with a rally of their own. After freshman Ari Morrison walked, a Hamilton single preceded a walk to Ward to load the bases. Garcia tied the game with an RBI groundout. Hamilton put OSU back in front after scoring from third on wild pitch.
Brown provided what would prove to be the winning run with a double into left center field to put OSU in front by a 6-4 count.
Houston made things interesting in the bottom of the seventh against sophomore Kat Espinosa. Pinch-hitter Bailie Lott led of the inning with a solo home run to left field. However, the Cowgirl infield recorded two outs and Espinosa struck out the final batter to clinch the win.
“I just tried to be mentally prepared for anything, basically. I was playing with everything I had and I trusted my defense behind me. We all did our job,” Espinosa said.
Senior Sarah Odom picked up the win for the Cowgirls and improved to 4-2 for the season. Espinosa picked up her third save. Deidre Outon took the loss for Houston and fell to 6-3 on the year.