OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma-Oklahoma State rivalry could add a special chapter this week.
They are together in the Women’s College World Series for the second time. And for the first time, they are on the same side of the bracket. That means if they win Thursday, they could meet Friday at USA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City. They also could face off in an elimination game Saturday if both lose their openers.
Oklahoma’s campus is about a half-hour drive south of the Hall of Fame complex and Oklahoma State’s is about an hour drive northeast.
Whether they meet or not, the event should have a special vibe with two in-state teams in the field. Oklahoma State plays Florida on Thursday evening and Oklahoma plays Alabama in the nightcap.
“The fans are just on edge,” Oklahoma State coach Kenny Gajewski said. “They’re excited, they’re crazy and they love it. I expect we’ll have record crowds. They’ll probably try to jam as many people in there as they can with us playing first and obviously, the top seed in OU playing the next game.”
Oklahoma won all three games against the Cowgirls during the regular season, winning 3-0 and 6-1 at Oklahoma State and 7-1 at home.
While the fans are fired up about the possibilities, the rivalry among the coaches is one of mutual respect. Gajewski was the groundskeeper for the Oklahoma softball field for a decade years under Sooners coach Patty Gasso, and Gajewski credits her as a critical mentor. So, while the fans would get a kick out of the matchup, Gasso is happy for Gajewski.
“Kenny had a really fun, great personality, attention to detail,” she said. “Very prideful in what he did for us at OU. But he brought an energy into the dugout. He has a personality that is very engaging.”
Oklahoma is loaded with talent, one reason Gajewski referred to Oklahoma as “Goliath.” Pitcher Giselle “G” Juarez and infielders Caleigh Clifton and Sydney Romero were named first-team NFCA All-Americans. Outfielders Falepolima Aviu and Jocelyn Alo were named second-team and freshman utility player Grace Green was named to the third team.
Oklahoma State pitcher Samantha Show was named a third-team NFCA All-American. The right hander has 21 wins and 11 strikeouts in 183 1/3 innings. Her presence gives the Cowgirls a shot whenever she plays.
While Gasso is chasing her third national title in four years, Gajewski is in his fourth year as a coach. As he sat at the podium with Gasso, Florida coach Tim Walton and Alabama coach Patrick Murphy on Wednesday, Gajewski thought about the road to qualify. The Cowgirls went to defending national champion Florida State for Super Regionals and beat the Seminoles to advance.