OKLAHOMA CITY — Samantha Show wasn’t watching as her second home run of the game flew over the center-field wall.
She wasn’t watching as the bat she tomahawked into the ground did three full rotations. Instead, Show was watching her teammates in the dugout cheer, bringing a smile to her face.
Show, the hard-hitting pitcher whose transformation this year has been well documented, added another chapter to her book Thursday night as she carried Oklahoma State to a 2-1 victory against Florida in the Women’s College World Series.
“Anything that happens after a home run of mine, I don’t plan out. Whatever emotion I have inside of me, normally I have so much that is why the dramatic bat flips happen because it needs to come out. I am very emotional. … It wasn’t planned, whatever comes out, comes out.”
Although the Cowgirl defense was its usual splendid itself, with the infield hardly missing a beat, the OSU offense struggled for the most part against Gator senior pitcher Kelly Barnhill.
Aside from Show, that is.
As someone who had experience against Barnhill and the No. 5 Gators dating back to Show’s Texas A&M days, she became a thorn in Florida’s side at the plate along with her solid play in the circle.
The Cowgirls (45-15) had only two hits, but they were monumental ones and both came from the bat of Show.
The first, a home run in the second at-bat of the day, gave OSU the momentum it needed after not playing in a WCWS for eight years. Florida’s Jordan Roberts tying it up with her own solo home run in the bottom of the first didn’t deter Show.
“Scoring first is always nice on a pitcher and it takes the pressure off the defense,” Show said. “We knew they were going to score runs and are a really good team. When they tied it up, I don’t think any of us thought that was it. We knew we were going to keep having good at-bats, but definitely scoring first helps you relax.”
The second, the blast that preceded the spiked bat, solidified the Cowgirls – a 20-1 shot heading into the weekend – as a team that belonged. It was Show’s 20th, extending her program single-season record.
Barnhill, who tossed eight strikeouts that included keeping OSU’s Rylee Bayless in a slump, said the two balls that became home runs were unaffordable in a game she otherwise controlled.
“Every hitter here potentially has home run power, especially in Oklahoma City where balls fly,” Barnhill said. “I think more than anything, it’s just missing the spot. I missed two pitches to their best hitter on the team.”
Despite Show being the story of the day on offense – only two other Cowgirls reached base in Chyenne Factor with a walk and Michaela Richbourg after a hit by pitch – the defense continued to stay a dominant force.
After shutting down hard-hitting Florida State last week in Super Regional play, No. 13 OSU did the same to the Seminoles’ Sunshine State counterparts.
Aside from Roberts’ home run, Show and the Cowgirl defense quickly cooled the hottest team in the country in the Gators (49-17).
OSU – which leads the country in double plays – nearly had three that didn’t quite make it to the bag in time, but it didn’t let it shake their confidence.
“We just look around at each other and we know that whoever gets the ball first, we are making that play,” OSU senior Madi Sue Montgomery said. “It doesn’t matter who it is. … We have a lot of trust in our infield and our outfield that they are going to make plays for us.”
Helping out Montgomery in the infield like she has all season was freshman shortstop Kiley Naomi, who continued to shine under pressure.
In her first college game at the main field of ASA Hall of Fame Stadium, Naomi was the vacuum to Montgomery’s Roomba, snagging grounder after grounder.
One she missed, in the bottom of the seventh that put runners on first and second with no outs, Naomi quickly dismissed. On the next play, Florida’s Jade Caraway hit a slow roller to Naomi who flipped it to Pennington to earn the first out.
“You just have to get past it and be behind your pitcher and your team and move on to the next one,” Naomi said. “You have to be ready for the ball at all times. The next pitch, I was ready and made the play.”
OSU nearly ended it on a double play as Montgomery earned a force and threw to Michaela Richbourg at first, but was a split second late. The next play, the senior from Burleson, Texas, made the clockwork play to advance OSU in the winner’s bracket.
Richbourg, the Broken Bow product who made a couple of nice plays defensively, spoke to the Cowgirls’ mindset in the field Thursday.
“Obviously I am not able to catch the ball at first unless the other infielders make the play,” Richbourg said. “I give it to them, they make the plays. I am just over there for them.”
Show said the play of the Cowgirl defense was a godsend in the tense outing and that she knew her teammates would have her back every step of the way.
“Never in my mind did I think we were out of it,” Show said. “They had runners in scoring position, but I knew even if they did score, it wouldn’t be over. We would go back and have good at-bats and hopefully score again.”
The Cowgirls move on to play No. 1 Oklahoma at 8:30 p.m. Friday.
Looking back at what his team accomplished, especially the play of Show, OSU coach Kenny Gajewski said he wasn’t expecting her to hit two home runs like that – the only pitcher in WCWS history to do so – but he knew the star was capable of it.
“When she hit that home run, it was big. When she hit the second one, I’ll be honest, I wasn’t thinking home run,” Gajewski said. “I just wanted a good at-bat. Right when it left her bat, I just felt the crowd, it went through me. I mean it was crazy. Kind of a surreal experience.
“But it was big. Those were big. … I don’t know if we hit another ball hard. It was a Sam Show day.”
Bishop writes for Stillwater News Press, a CNHI News Service publication.