PHOTO CREDIT: Courtney Culbreath/UAA Communications

Gators Softball Starts WCWS Against the Cowgirls

Florida’s stretch of familiar opponents won’t stop with the Tennessee Lady Vols during this postseason run.

The fifth national seed Florida Gators begin their Women’s College World Series run against the 13th-seed Oklahoma State Cowgirls on Thursday at 7 p.m. on ESPN2.

A win would get Florida off on the right foot if it wishes to come out of a bracket that also boasts Alabama and number one seed Oklahoma.

Scouting the Cowgirls

Oklahoma State made the WCWS after it downed defending national champion Florida State at the Tallahassee Super Regional.

The Cowgirls have the fourth-best batting average in the Big 12 at .292. They’re also ninth in the nation in home runs with 80.

A player to watch in the lineup is three-hole hitter Madi Sue Montgomery. She is the third OSU player to earn All-Big 12 honors and the first since Lauren Bay (2000-2003)

She leads the team with a .353 batting average and owns a .442 on-base percentage. Montgomery drove in 47 runs this season. She holds the career record for RBIs at OSU.

The Cowgirls have the Big 12’s third-best earned run average at 2.75. Teams hit .241 against them but they don’t strike out many batters (4.03 K/7).

Samantha Show leads OSU in the circle and in multiple categories. Her 2.37 ERA is seventh among Big 12 pitchers and her 21 wins are second to Oklahoma’s Giselle Juarez.

Other team-leading stats:

  • Batting average against – .220
  • Starts – 30
  • Innings pitched – 183.1
  • Strikeouts – 111

The NFCA third team All-American also hits second in the team’s lineup. She led the team with 18 home runs and 54 RBIs. Those 54 ribbies pace the Big 12 also.

Familiar Faces

Not only did these teams meet two years prior in regional play, but Oklahoma State is also coached by former Gator assistant Kenny Gajewski.

Florida won back-to-back national titles in 2014 and 2015 during his final two years under Tim Walton.

“We go way back,” Gajewski said. “A lot of people talk about our story at OU, but we go back even to our junior college days when we played on the same team. I’m proud to be just a leaf on the branches here.”

Walton was even in Gajewski’s wedding. He credits Gajewski for getting him his job under Patty Gasso at Oklahoma where the two also were together.

PHOTO CREDIT: Courtney Culbreath/UAA Communications

“He was at our practice on Wednesday night before the regionals,” Walton said. “I was at his practice in the fall, not knowing we’d ever match up against each other, but just as friends, to lean on each other and ask questions.”

Not only does Walton have ties to Oklahoma State’s head coach, but also its assistant Stacie Pestrak.

The Gainesville native played under Walton in her senior season in 2006. She was a junior college All-American at Santa Fe.

Pestrak also served as a volunteer assistant at the same time Gajewski served as an assistant.

There’s a lot of history in Oklahoma City for Florida in the last decade. There’s a lot of history between the teams on Florida’s side of the bracket. Let’s see what history is made this year.


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