A year ago, Oklahoma State’s 6-1 win over Texas could have looked very different.
The second-seeded Cowgirls defeated the third-seeded Texas in the Big 12 semifinals Friday at the USA Softball Hall of Fame, but had it not been for this season’s Replay Review Institution, OSU—at least—would have found itself in a tighter game.
The Cowgirls are headed into their Big 12 Championship match, where they will face the top seed OU at 2 p.m. Saturday, thanks to their improved offensive tackle, strong performances from bowler Morgan Day and the benefit of two judgment calls that were properly flipped.
In two separate instances at the bottom of the first half, it was initially judged that OSU had not scored playback points, but a video review correctly reversed both summons. That gave the Cowgirls an early 2-0 lead in a bizarre and intense run that also included a home plate crash, a bizarre double match and Texas coach Mike White raising his middle finger toward the referee after he was sent off.
With Chelsea Alexander at third base and Chen Factor at the start, Miranda Eilish hit a single hitter to the bowler, leaving Alexander stuck in a rickety between third and home. As she rushes toward the plate, Alexander is flagged down by Texas hunter Mary Iacopo as the two collided at the base of the plinth a few feet in front of the plate.
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OSU coach Kenny Jagowski immediately began arguing for a foul call, because Iakubo was in the baseline before she even got the ball. The play was revised, confirming Gajewski’s argument and giving OSU a 1-0 lead with one.
Sidney Bennington followed with a flight to the center of the field. The worker was tagged from third, but Elish was not tagged for second. Throwing the ball into the net was too late to get Factor, but the Texans returned the ball to second base for a double from Eilish in the final game of the inning.
At first, the judges ruled that running the Factor didn’t matter, but after another argument from Gajewski, the call moved to video review. It was confirmed that Factor scored before Elish scored at second base, giving OSU a 2–0 lead.
“Once you get the running scores, and the subsequent third of the first inning at second base, that’s a game of timing,” said Sally Walker, baseball’s big 12 referee coordinator. “They didn’t see when I crossed the board, and whether that happened before coming out on second base. That’s something we have to make sure of, and it’s also a callable to review, so there’s no need to try to speculate.”
“This is confirmed by the video review.”
White immediately began arguing with the referees after the review, eventually taking his place in the third base coaching box at the top of the second half. However, he continued to express his displeasure with third referee Naomi Erdal, who kicked him out of the game.
“If I was Mike White, I’d be pissed, to be honest, but the judges got it right, to be honest,” Gajewski said. “It’s an idiot rule. It happened to us when we were in Florida. The referees were actually a little confused, because they kept telling me the pitch went to second base.
I said, ‘The ball was thrown home. “I was grateful we had a replay, because if it wasn’t, we’d only have one run. But credit to our kids for playing hard and running hard. But it was silly. It was wild.”
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Before leaving the field, White raised his middle finger in the direction of the referees, a motion that was captured on television broadcasts and could have caught the attention of the Big 12 Conference desk.
If it wasn’t for a pair of video reviews flipping OSU’s goal-scoring plays, Texans would have taken the lead with Mia Scott’s solo home away from cowgirl Morgan Day at the top of the fourth inning.
Instead, the Cowgirls kept the lead and added it with a pair of runs at the bottom of the fourth. The operator added two more runs with one loaded with bases at the bottom of the sixth.
Lost in the frenzy of the game was a strong outing by Day, which has been mostly phenomenal since slipping into second place at Team OSU when Eilish injured her shoulder on April 24.
Day allowed for a six-hit without a walk and one hit as the Cowgirls played a flawless defense behind them. Heavy strike pitcher all season, Dai didn’t get one until the final match of the day.
“The hits are great and all, but I think it shows that I trust myself that even on days when my stuff might not be the best material for swing and error, it’s still good enough to get out,” Day said.
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Day’s performance kept ace Kelly Maxwell in the dugout, giving her a day off before her title match against OU a week after the Sooners swept the OSU in a three-game series in Norman.
“I’m excited about the opportunity to get our girls back,” Gajewski said. Now it’s, ‘What’s your response?’ I can’t wait. I think it’s going to be crazy here. I hope everyone watching this continues, ‘We should be at this football field tomorrow.’
“There is no reason why fans of these two schools can’t buy every seat.”
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Big 12 softball game schedule
Game 1: No. 4 Iowa State 2, No. 5 Baylor 1 (8 runs)
Game 2: No. 2 Oklahoma State 2, No. 7 KS 0
The third game: No. 3 Texas 9, No. 6 Texas Tech 1 (5 runs)
Fourth game: no. 1 Oklahoma 5, no. 4 Iowa 0
Fifth game: No. 2 Oklahoma State 6, No. 3 Texas 1
Game 6: No. 1 Oklahoma v No. 2 Oklahoma State, 2 noon (ESPN2)