STILLWATER, Okla. — Samantha Show became the show throughout the Women’s College World Series.
Between interviews on ESPN’s Baseball Tonight, the 7innings podcast, shoutouts from the Cincinnati Reds and outspoken Chicago White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson on Twitter, she was everywhere.
The former Oklahoma State pitcher became a national sensation by being herself and whether you embraced her or not, she kept on doing what she loved.
Show long ago used to limit herself because of what people thought, but because of a season at OSU and the support she had from teammates, as well as the coaching staff, she ascended to the level she always knew she could be at.
It was a magical season in so many ways, one that in 20 years, people will still recall the big home runs and the clutch moments, reciting the batting order from one through nine by heart. Show, obviously, was the star and though it was a lot of pressure at times, she lived up to it.
The faith in her through thick and thin allowed her to put her trust into the program to now where she is going to stay at OSU next season, working on her Masters degree while being a graduate assistant with the team.
Show's teammates came to support her fully after a bit of a transition period where there was some give and take. The Cowgirls had to learn how she was, but Show also made some changes and became more trusting and overall put on a more positive outlook.
One of the de facto leaders of the team – second baseman Madi Sue Montgomery – said for Cowgirls to take that next step, they would need players like Show and overall back up the “family” aspect that so many OSU athletes talk about.
“Our coaches and seniors did a great job of trying to let our teammates know as soon as we embrace the people that come in, the better off we're going to be,” Montgomery said. “I think we did a great job of getting people to understand where they're coming from, embrace their personalities, let us all be great friends, take off from there.
“We have a lot of trust in each other. I think that came early, which is lucky for us. I just think as soon as we embraced each other, got past that, we were pretty good.”
After her college-career ending loss to Washington last Saturday, Show talked about her future with the program, wanting to give back to the school that gave so much to her.
“Big thing for me that I've grown as a person here,” Show said. “Building relationships is something that I've struggled with. Coming here I've never had so many friends on my side, friends that actually supported me. That's how I've grown personally.
“Softball-wise, this was the most fun year of softball that I've ever had. I'm so happy it was my last year, and I get to end it here at the World Series with these people by my side. I'm so excited to see what they do next year. I'm going to be around helping with the team. Definitely going to take the experience that I have.
“These younger girls, they're going to show out in Big 12. We're not going to be taken lightly next year either. This experience they got here is going to help them for their following years. We're not going to fall under the radar again, we're going to be known for a long time.”
OSU coach Kenny Gajewski said he is excited to see so many players want to come back. When he started, that culture hadn’t been built yet, but now he is getting people to stay with Montgomery and Show staying on, as well as redshirt senior Rylee Bayless.
“To see what these kids have done, to see them now wanting to come back, it's crazy,” Gajewski said. “I think it just tells you the type of people that we've got. I have an administration that's letting me grow my program and my staff, which is what you've got to do. You got to open up opportunity for these kids to stay around and be able to give back. They work their tails off as a graduate manager. It's hard work. It's not easy.”
Show is the type of person with bravado where she knows she can make an impact and won’t give up until the job is done. When she wasn’t picked in April’s National Pro Fastpitch draft, she didn’t let it bother her. She went on a postseason tear and earned herself a spot with the independent Houston-based squad Scrap Yard, the same franchise Vanessa Fletcher signed with last season.
All of the fame might not have been possible had Show not been embraced by the program, or vice versa.
Last summer, when she was announced as a transfer, it was met with little fanfare.
She had the credentials, succeeding in the Southeastern Conference with Texas A&M, but she was coming off a season where she didn’t get as many reps. Show was looked on as uncoachable by some.
Many thought she was just in another line of transfer pitchers Gajewski added because depth in the circle has been an issue in his time here.
However, instead of looking at Show as a problem who needed to be fixed, the OSU coaches, team and soon Stillwater community, realized that she wasn’t a problem at all, just someone who had repressed her true self for so long.
Now, because of how she transformed herself and her game at OSU, the Cowgirls could be a haven for more transfers or players with big personalities, a piece of Show’s legacy.
“Being here and actually getting to be myself has allowed me to leave a legacy to be yourself,” Show said. “That's when you're going to be the happiest and when you're going to be able to play your best. That was my biggest thing this year. I just wanted to be happy, wanted to be myself, and I wanted to love softball. I got to do that here. I think the softball world got to see that.”
Not only did Show change the mindsets of many in northern Oklahoma about the game of softball, but she contributed in a big way to the national topic about bat flips and celebrations in diamond sports.
The bat flip has been controversial with baseball purists, but the newer generations appreciate it, with Anderson himself making numerous headlines this year. Show added to it with softball – a rapidly growing sport – and brought more attention to the game itself by making bat flips a talking point.
Even Washington’s Taran Alvelo, who struck out 16 Cowgirls to end their season, said she likes people just being themselves. With baseball at a crossroads viewership-wise and softball already taking off, she might have a point.
“Be yourself. Bat flips, fun expressions. I mean, I've slammed a ball I think one time,” Alvelo said. “Just pure raw emotion for the game. I feel like that gets lost in so much. You see it in men's sports, in so many things. It's like, Why can't we do it? Why can't we sit and express how much we love what we do, what we feel?”
Show’s season at OSU already seems to be making waves in the softball world, with Gajewski landing another transfer as soon as the Cowgirls lost with Virginia’s Haley Busby announcing her intent to come to Stillwater.
With how Show did, left fielder Chelsea Alexander said it’s possible more transfer might consider the Cowgirls as a destination.
“I think it starts trusting the coaches and trusting who they're recruiting and bringing in. Coach is about bringing in good people,” Alexander said. “I think he knows when he's recruiting and bringing them in whether they're going to fit in.
“I think we just trust our coaching staff that they're recruiting good people, good players. Then it just comes in to welcoming them with open arms. We're For the Girls this year, that was our big thing, FTG. On and off the field we bonded really fast.”
Show proved that the Cowgirl culture works and now with a new crop of freshmen about to move in, along with possibly more transfers, she will be along to help ensure the program keeps building.
“Hopefully the younger generations, women in general, need to understand that you have to be yourself and you have to be happy,” Show said. “No matter what the situation is, if you have to make a hard change, do it. It's scary. You never know. But it's going to work out in the long run.
“If that's my legacy, then I did my job.”
Bishop writes for Stillwater News Press, a CNHI News Service publication.