OKLAHOMA CITY – Chyenne Factor swung for the fences, her phenomenal freshman season and the team’s year for the ages on the line.
The bat didn’t find the ball, for the umpteenth time Saturday night, but this time, there was no next at-bat. Oklahoma State, who had come back so many times didn’t have enough magic left. Factor’s strikeout being an undramatic end to an action-packed season.
The Cowgirls’ season came to an end in an elimination game against Washington . OSU lost 1-0 at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in the Women’s College World Series.
OSU fell one game short of being one of the final four teams alive Sunday after its best season in a long time and a breakout year in the Kenny Gajewski era.
No. 3 Washington had to play nearly a five-hour game to start the day as its elimination contest against Minnesota was paused in the sixth inning because of weather. Pitcher Taran Alvelo came in relief when the game started again to shut down a Gophers’ rally.
Her hot pitching didn’t stop there as the Cowgirls struggled to hit off of the Huskies’ senior, with the righthander tossing 15 strikeouts on 95 pitches, including the finisher on Factor.
It wasn’t for a lack of trying from OSU that it couldn’t get a run across as the Cowgirl offense earned three hits off one of the best pitchers in the country. Unlike Friday night’s loss to No. 1 Oklahoma, the OSU defense gave the Cowgirls chance after chance, but couldn’t ever get that big hit.
“I have really tried to enjoy this whole year,” Gajewski said. “This whole time I felt like we had some really cool kids and it took us time to mold this thing to see how it works. Sometimes it takes you to places you never thought you would go to.”
OSU (45-17) had stellar plays from all around the field, from Madi Sue Montgomery’s plays at second base to a home run rob from Chyenne Factor in center field.
Gajewski said he thought with the way both Alvelo and Show were pitching that whoever scored first might win it.
Washington (52-8) got that honor in the bottom of the fourth, with Amirah Milloy hit a single to right field that Rylee Bayless had trouble with, scoring Taryn Atlee from third for the ultimate game-winner.
Show battled in her third-straight start of the weekend, with Gajewski saying he would have thrown her Sunday if the team had made it because of her desire to win.
“Very few people really understand what it is like to have guts,” Gajewski said. “To go out there and pour it out there. I have got to coach and be around a lot of kids. There are some in this tournament. … I got the treat to coach Sam and she has guts. She is truly a kid who is willing to lose a game. There are some kids who think they are willing to win a game, there isn’t. … She just wants to be in that moment and help her team. It has never been about her one time. She truly has guts.”
The No. 13 Cowgirls didn’t let the run bother them, but ultimately their offense couldn’t match the Huskies’ run.
Montgomery nearly had a solo shot to left field to tie, but it was caught at the wall. Factor followed up with her strikeout.
“The last at-bat. I tried to have a better at-bat than I did my second one and it didn’t come out the way I wanted it to,” Factor said.
Gajewski held back tears in the postgame press conference after OSU’s season came to an end with its first WCWS appearance since 2011, but he and the Cowgirl seniors spoke about the bright future because of this season.
Montgomery said she is excited for the great underclassmen who she believes will take the team even farther than what she and fellow four-year senior Taylor Lynch accomplished.
“I think they are in great hands. Our coaching staff is a blessing. What they do is really awesome,” Montgomery said. “The kids that we have here are crazy good. I can’t wait to watch the show that they put on. … They are really good and I hope they embrace that freshman class and shows them what Oklahoma State softball is all about.”
Show spoke to how she accomplished everything she wanted to when she transferred last summer from Texas A&M.
“This was my goal all along when I first stepped foot her knowing what they have been doing the past three years and what they needed from me,” Show said. “I couldn’t be more proud of this team and what we have done and how we have shown the softball world we are a top-tier softball program.”
After a year to remember, Gajewski said he doesn’t know what he will do next other than visit with family and try to embrace what he and the Cowgirls did this season.
“It will never be the same again. We will never all be in the same place again. It is a rarity,” Gajewski said. “There is always someone who can’t come back or gets lost along the way. I just want to hold onto things as long as I can, but I am super thankful for these kids and the journey they took us on.”