Oklahoma State softball rules Utah, which escaped elimination in the WCWS

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The first player Kenny Jagoski saw on a long, slow Friday — still hours before the 8:30 p.m. Oklahoma State elimination game in the Women’s College World Series — was the Cheyenne Factor.

The super quarterback smiled and Gajewski’s jittery energy swept away.

Well, we’re good, I thought, the cowgirl trainer said to himself.

Even Gajewski couldn’t imagine how good the sixth-ranked Cowboys would be on Friday night, as they exploded with an 8-0 win over 15th-ranked Utah in the USA Softball Hall of Fame, avoiding elimination and stretching. Season on the weekend.

One night after an embarrassing 8-0 run-rule loss to Florida State, OSU (47-15) was sharp all-around while finishing off the season for Utah (42-16), which was making its fourth WCWS appearance and first since 1994.

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“We’ve built on this going forward,” Gajewski said. “I feel it. I haven’t lost any sleep over it. This team is going to celebrate this win. We’ll wake up tomorrow and get back to work.”

The win gives OSU the day off on Saturday, waiting to see who their next opponent will be. The Cowgirls will be back on the court at 6 p.m. Sunday to take on the loser of the second Saturday afternoon game between top-ranked Oklahoma and fifth-ranked Tennessee.

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But that’s for later. Right off the bat, the Cowgirls will focus on building on that all-important Friday night.

Senior pitcher Lexi Kilfoyle (16-5) was dominant in the circuit, powering through five innings with three strikeouts and allowing one walk.

But it was the offense that packed a big punch.

Morgyn Wynne and Katelynn Carwile combined for four hits and five runs from the middle of the Cowgirl order.

Two walks and a single by Wynne in the bottom of the first inning loaded the bases for Carwile, who brought up two with one out for an early 2-0 Cowgirl advantage.

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“I noticed coming in today that we’re all excited. You can tell we’re ready to go,” said Carwell. “We wanted to show what we can do after last night’s game. Only the first half set the tone for us and we kept playing the whole match.”

Momentum exploded in the second inning, when super catch Taylor Tuck hit off with a double to start a series of seven straight Cowboys reaching base before Utah scored an out.

She brought a single Loaded with Tuck Factor Rules and Kylie brought Naomi and Megan Bloodworth. Rachael Baker scored on a wild pitch before Wayne hit a two-run double to left center field. And Carwell brought Wayne with the second of her three singles in the game.

Gajewski hasn’t changed his lineup much in recent weeks, but he moved Wynne from sixth to fourth in the Friday batting order and produced the designated senior player, going 2-for-3 with two RBIs and a run scored.

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“I had a feeling,” said Gajewski. “Morgyn seems to be the one who really adapted to our style very well. She’s really raised her average and had a great year compared to last year. But she’s been so close all year, it’s like, it’s going to happen. It’s great to see that happen on the bigger stage.”

Utah only threatened to score once, holding runners on second and third without a win in the top of the fifth inning. But Kilfoyl tackled a hot streak in her direction, then hit the next batter and ended the game with a bunt to first base.

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The 6-foot-2 pitcher was twice forced into position, once the high chopper was tackled on a second infield, then ripped off the fifth liner.

“I definitely take pride in my ability,” said Kilfoyle, who allowed one run on 12 hits with 16 strikeouts and two walks over 22 innings in the postseason. “That’s one of my favorite things to do in practice, actually. Even at a young age on travel ball teams, I was playing first base and they were hitting balls at us all the time. I think that helped.”

Kilfoyl only needed 53 pitches on Friday night. Thursday night starter Kelly Maxwell threw 37 pitches and left the game after the second inning due to a rain delay of nearly two hours. Freshman Kira Aycock threw 56 pitches on Thursday.

Adding a day off to the mix, Gajewski will have a rested staff heading into Sunday’s elimination match. While the Sooners are well-accustomed to OSU pitchers, Tennessee hasn’t played the Cowgirls since 2018.

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“Everyone is on call here,” said Gajewski. “We’re just going to do it. We’re now in a one-game year, as we were today. You have to win and progress, that’s it. So we’ll do everything we can. Everybody’s going to be fresh. Lexi was really good.”

“It’s going to be interesting what we work through over the next day or so, because we’ve got three good arms to trust.”

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