Clemson softball: On deck – Super Regionals vs. Oklahoma State

Clemson softball is in the spotlight as the Tigers head to Stillwater, OK for Super Regional play.

The Clemson Tigers softball team is the talk of the town as they were able to knock off UNC-Wilmington, Auburn and Louisiana in the finals of the Clemson regional a week ago to earn their first ever trip to a Super Regional birth.

Awaiting the Tigers is the Big XII Tournament Champions, the Oklahoma State Cowgirls in the Stillwater Super Regional.

For those that are unfamiliar with the way the Supers work, it is just a best two out of three series, winner-take-all, or in this case, winner moves to the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

This is a battle of the #7 National Seed Oklahoma State and the #10 National Seed Clemson Tigers.

There were lots of folks out in Tiger Nation that were disappointed in the regular season this year, especially with all of the success of last seasons team.  However, this years schedule for the Tigers was slightly more daunting this season over last.  None of that matters now as the Tigers will play in its first ever Super Regional series.

This is exciting folks.  And I truly believe they have a chance in this series.  I really do.  It’s going to be a tough road, but they match up well with this Oklahoma State team.  But more on my predictions later.

Oklahoma State is 44-12 and took down powerhouse Oklahoma in the Big 12 Tournament

Oklahoma State comes into the super regional at 44-12 on the season, and as mentioned earlier won their conference tournament over the nation’s undisputed #1 team, the Oklahoma Sooners.

The Cowgirls, as they are known, are lead by 7th year Head Coach Kenny Gajewski, who has a 265-119 overall record over those 7 years with 2 trips to the WCWS.  He has been the part of 2 National Championship teams while an assistant coach at the University of Florida.  He is known as a program builder and has taken the Cowgirls from a relative unknown to national prominence in just a few years.

Oklahoma State 44 wins to date have come against: Arizona State, Utah, California Baptist, Missouri State, Michigan, Northwestern, Tennessee State (x2), Texas A&M (x2), Stanford, DePaul, Minnesota (x2), Memphis, Central Arkansas, North Texas, Wichita State (x3), Kansas City (x2), Texas Tech (x3), Tulsa (x2), Baylor (x3), Iowa State (x2), Kansas State (x3), and Texas (x3).  They won games against Kansas, Texas and Oklahoma in the Big XII Tournament, and just last weekend in the Stillwater Regional bested Fordham, Nebraska and North Texas to win and advance.

Their 12 losses on the season came by way of: Duke, LSU, South Florida, Washington, Stanford, UT-Arlington, Iowa State, Florida State (x2), and Oklahoma (x3).

The regulars on this Cowgirl team are a seasoned bunch.  7 of the 9 starters are Seniors or Graduate Students with one sophomore and one junior.  This team is well-experienced.

The Cowgirls are led offensively by Sydney Pennington, the Graduate Student 3rd Basewoman.  Pennington is hitting .340 on the season with 10 home runs and 43 RBIs.  Also notable is the leadoff hitter, another graduate, Chelsea Alexander.  Alexander is hitting .325 on the season and 18-20 in stolen bases.

The rest of the Cowgirls probable lineup is as follows: Batting Average/OPS (notable stats in parentheses):

Center Field – Senior – Cheyenne Factor – .300/.943 (10 HRs)

Right Field – Sophomore – Katelynn Carwile – .361/1.012 (13 2bs, 7 HRs)

Designated Player – Graduate – Miranda Elish – .352/1.082 (8 2bs, 7 HRs)

1st Base – Graduate – Hayley Busby – .262/.780 (3 2bs, 5 HRs)

Catcher – Senior – Taylor Tuck – .279/.713 (5 2bs)

2nd Base – Junior – Karli Petty – .281/.782 (3 2bs, 3 HRs)

Shortstop – Senior – Kiley Naomi – .230/.710 (5 2bs, 5 HRs, 13-15 SBs)

Others that you will hear this weekend offensively:

Infielder – Freshman – Brianna Evans – .289/.729 (14-16 SBs)

Catcher – Junior – Julia Cottrill – .288/1.005 (11 HRs)

The Cowgirls have scored 302 runs across 56 games for an average of 5.4 runs per game.  The Tigers have scored 281 runs over 57 games for an average of 4.9.

In the circle for Oklahoma State is a big-time duo.  Junior Kelly Maxwell has been the “ace” of the staff for much of the season but Graduate Morgan Day won the Most Outstanding Player in the Big XII Conference Tournament and has really given OSU a heck of a one-two punch a la Cagle and Thompson for the Tigers.  And that’s saying something because their ace going into the season was supposed to be Graduate Miranda Elish, but an injury against Texas with a tendon in her arm won’t allow her to pitch at the level she’s capable.  We will still see Elish at the plate, as mentioned in the stats above.

Kelly Maxwell is 18-4 on the season over 30 appearances and 24 starts.  She has 17 complete games and an ERA of 1.22.  She has compiled 263 strikeouts on the season to 57 walks, and opponents are hitting a paltry .144 against her.

Morgan Day sports a 13-4 record over 23 appearances and 16 starts with 10 complete games.  She has a 2.63 ERA, but was in the circle for their win versus Oklahoma.  She has compiled 99 strikeouts and 23 walks and opponents are hitting .198 against her.

Oklahoma State has allowed 115 runs on the season over those same 56 games for an average of 2.05 runs against per game.  The Tigers have allowed 131 in 57 games for an average of 2.3 runs per game.

This match-up should be a really fun one.  It’s the unknown, youthful exuberance of the Clemson Tigers versus the experience of the Oklahoma State Cowgirls.

 

As much as I may get flamed for this take, I think everything else that happens positive for the Tigers this year is gravy.  This team has over-achieved in a huge way the last two full seasons and it has been an enjoyable ride every step of the way.

I truly believe in this team and think they can win the series and make the move to the WCWS, however, my prediction will be with my head, not with my heart.  I think experience wins this time of year, so I will say…

…Oklahoma State in 3.

Thursday

Prediction
Clemson Tigers
1
Oklahoma State Cowboys
3

Friday

Prediction
Clemson Tigers
5
Oklahoma State Cowboys
0

Saturday

Prediction
Clemson Tigers
5
Oklahoma State Cowboys
6

(If I’m wrong, we’re going to Oklahoma City and I get to write another one of these previewing those 8 teams, and I am perfectly ok with that!)