STILLWATER, Okla. — Mady Lohman wasn’t used to being on the other side of the home run celebration.
Throughout the year, Lohman had been struggling to break back into the batting order and the few times she did, the freshman from Keller, Texas, couldn’t showcase the long ball she knew she could.
Saturday afternoon, Lohman finally hit one over the wall as part of Oklahoma State’s 7-3 win to sweep Kansas at Cowgirl Stadium. She said it was a long time coming.
Lohman got the nod prior to the game that she would be making her fifth start. She knew she would have to make the most of it.
“I was feeling really excited,” Lohman said. “I have been down on myself lately, but the team has had my back so I just wanted to get out there and have their back, too.”
In the bottom of the second, the 5-foot-3 center fielder got ahold of a ball and started booking it, not even knowing that it was gone over the wall until she was almost to second base.
“When I hit it, I don’t even think it was out,” Lohman said. “I was looking at it like it was a triple and when I was rounding after I knew it was gone, I just wanted to get to my team and celebrate with them.”
Lohman’s two-run shot put the Cowgirls (29-11 overall, 7-2 Big 12 Conference) ahead by three as it tacked onto a Sydney Pennington RBI double earlier in the inning.
After Lohman hit it, OSU coach Kenny Gajewski turned to assistant coach Jeff Cottrill and joked they should have put Lohman in the four-hole. Although Gajewski said he knows Lohman’s spot isn’t there – Pennington currently bats cleanup – but it validated his point that he knew Lohman could make it at the plate in the Big 12.
“I had a really good heart-to-heart with her on Thursday night,” Gajewski said. “We went over our Wednesday game and showed our team correctable mistakes. She was one of the ones that I challenged. She came and talked to me that evening and we clarified some things that I challenged her on and I wanted to make sure she knew what I meant. Honesty is a big part of our program here and you have to be able to take it.”
Lohman knows she is being gifted a spot in an order that is hard to crack, but she also knows she has worked hard for the spot. After being one of the best players in the fall, she has been working to come back from injury and now that she has, she wants to start taking more home run trots.
“It was awesome. It is like an experience that I want to keep on having,” Lohman said.
Her home run didn’t cap the game for the Cowgirls, though as the Jayhawks (14-24, 2-4) tied it up on a forced run home from a hit by pitch and then two runs on a two-out double.
OSU starter Logan Simunek had to give the ball to Gabby Sprang as Gajewski said the Piedmont junior wasn’t as sharp as he knows she can be. Sprang, a sophomore left-hander, was serviceable and was credited with the win to remain undefeated at 5-0, but Gajewski said she was a tad rusty, too.
The OSU skipper blamed himself for throwing aces Samantha Show and Samantha Clakley – who closed out Saturday’s contest – too much and realizes he needs to keep giving Simunek and Sprang work for when the postseason comes.
“It was good to give Logan a start just to get some innings,” Gajewski said. “Sam and Sam have pitched so good that we have been going off of two kids. We are going to need more of that as we get down the stretch run here. Really proud of Logan and Gabby. I know they weren’t as sharp as they wanted to be, but they got the job done.”
KU couldn’t match its three-spot after the third inning, though and the No. 16 Cowgirls started to add some security runs. Madi Sue Montgomery scored on a wild pitch and then Michaela Richbourg doubled on a fly ball down the right field line to plate Pennington.
Richbourg, a sophomore from Broken Bow, has been swinging the bat well of late and looks to smack the ball every time she goes to the plate.
“It is hard to get a series sweep in our conference so it was a big deal to get a sweep,” Richbourg said. “We have been working on picking one side of the plate and going when it is there. They pitched me the same and I just had to get ready for the pitch instead of waiting.”
Richbourg went 2 for 2 in the six-spot to join Pennington’s 3 for 4 day as the Cowgirls’ middle of the order continues to feast on opposing pitchers.
Rylee Bayless capped OSU’s scoring with a solo shot in the fifth inning for her sixth on the year and to put the Cowgirls at 56 total.
OSU will now have a week to continue fine-tuning its team before the Cowgirls head to Ames, Iowa, for a date with Iowa State. Although the Cyclones are in the bottom half of the league, but Gajewski said the team will be ready and looking for another series win.
“It will be a tough one this week in going to Ames and the weather is going to be cold, not an easy place to play,” Gajewski said. “Their program is in a better state than the last few years. It will take all we have got to go up there and win.”