OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma State softball has talked all year about breaking through barriers to return the program to past glory.
And one-by-one, this Cowgirl team has been chipping away at the glass ceiling.
First it was getting the chance to host a regional for the first time since 1998 – when many of the Cowgirls on this squad were not even born, or were but mere toddlers. But they busted past another barrier when they hosted the four-team regional when it featured Tulsa.
Oklahoma State, which had been trying to change its image on the national level, couldn’t even claim to be the second-best college softball program in Oklahoma with its struggles against the Golden Hurricane. And then the Cowgirls swept TU – and the field – to stamp a ticket to a Super Regional, where they had to travel to the home stadium of the defending national champions and a top-four seed in Florida State.
But they found themselves bound for Oklahoma City by bouncing the Seminoles in three games and returned to Oklahoma without Florida State following them as the representative at the Women’s College World Series in OKC.
Getting here was another crack in that ceiling, but the program had been here this century. Eight years earlier, Oklahoma State made this same trip an hour south to ASA Hall of Fame Stadium – and a few years later the program had fallen so far from that moment, a coaching change was made.
This Cowgirl team is nothing like that squad that made a two-game appearance in the Women’s College World Series in 2011, though.
The last Oklahoma State team that played here, lost two games and quickly returned to Stillwater – and softball oblivion.
But this team is breaking barriers, and have so every week since the start of the NCAA Division I softball tournament.
And these Cowgirls did it again Thursday.
It had been 21 years since Oklahoma State walked away from Hall of Fame Stadium with a win. Until this team, with the undisputed leader Samantha Show having put the team on her back and leading them there both in the circle – with seven innings pitched and one run allowed – and at the plate with the only two hits in the contest – a pair of solo home runs in her first and last at-bats in the game.
“I think it’s a big deal for us. We can finally just kind of relax and not have to worry about pushing that first win,” Cowgirl senior second baseman Madi Sue Montgomery said. “I think we came out pretty relaxed and normal. Having fun, playing the game that we love. It’s nice to break down the next barrier. We just want to keep going. We’re not done.”
The barriers don’t get easier, either.
The next barrier is Bedlam. The top-ranked Oklahoma Sooners beat No. 8 seed Alabama, 3-2.
Regardless of opponent, the next barrier looms just as large as the previous. But the Cowgirls have proven they are up to any task set ahead of them.
“I mean, it puts us in a great spot. It’s the best field to play in college softball, best spot you want to be,” Montgomery said. “You’re going to have crazy fans on both sides going at it the whole game. It’s where you want to be.”
Jason Elmquist is sports editor of The Stillwater News Press. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
Elmquist is sports editor for Stillwater News Press, a CNHI News Service publication.