#44 Oklahoma State Softball 2014 Preview

Oklahoma State Cowgirls

Overall Rank: #44
Conference Rank: #4 Big 12
Oklahoma State Softball 2014 Team Preview
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Head Coach Rich Wieligman will be looking to rebound from two sub-par seasons. Last year the Cowgirls went 30-26 following a 25-26 record in 2012. The ‘Girls are not that far removed, however, from a 40-22 record in 2011 and are seeking a return to the Women’s College Softball World Series (last appearance 2011.) That lofty goal needs to yield to a more immediate concern of improving their 6 win, 12 loss Big 12 conference performance. The 2013 Cowgirls played 18 games and finished last in the Big 12 in hits (91), runs (48), and home runs (8). They also struck out 130 times (next to last), hitting only .202 as a squad. In the circle, OSU’s pitchers posted a staff conference play ERA of 5.28. Kelsi Dunn, of Alabama and NPF fame, rides into Stillwater intent on molding the pitching staff into something special. Senior Tarah Ettinger returns for her senior campaign, having been named 2nd Team All-Big 12 and All Midwest Region.

2013 Record: 30-26
2013 Postseason: Big 12 Tournament
Coach: Rich Wieligman, 8th Season

Field Players:
Offensively, Ettinger will need help from returning outfielder Shelby Davis, who hit just .208 but stole 13 bases in 15 attempts. Infield junior Gesseni Delacruz had five doubles and two home runs. Four freshman position players, catcher Miranda Cavin, Peyton Walker (utility), Madisyn Long (SS), and Madison Ellis (3b), will push last year’s starters for time of their own. Second baseman Ari Morrison will be a senior and hit .323 as a junior.

Anytime your school has an alum the likes of Michelle Smith, your pitching tradition is proud and runs deep. With Kat Espinosa (18 wins, 222 innings pitched) lost to graduation,  the only experienced pitcher on the roster will be senior Simone Freeman, the Aussie right hander who went 12-7 with a 2.54 ERA in 127 innings pitched. Freeman did have 157 strikeouts and held opponents to an overall .210 batting average. Freshman Meagan Lively led Neville High School (Monroe, LA) to a 4A State title, and was First Team All-State with a 17-8 record. The fall season being just that, Lively did strike out 29 opponents in 14 frames of work. Fellow freshman Whitney Whitehorn, homegrown in Owasso, Oklahoma, has State Championship game experience and also wields a big bat offensively.

Who to Watch:
The pitching. The pitching. The pitching. With only three pitchers on the roster (two being freshman), The Cowgirls’ season success or failure rests in the circle. Dunn will have to whip the hurlers into a team of confident, “I will not let you beat me” arms if the Orange and Black are to make headway in the conference.  Keep an eye on pitcher Lively, who could be a key factor.

Final Projection:
Pitcher Freeman will need to get off to a good start until Coaches Wieligman and Dunn can see what the two freshman hurlers are able to offer. On the base paths, Ettinger is the clear-cut key to success. She will need to lead OSU on and off the field, and will need to at least equal her offensive output from 2013. If the ‘Girls don’t start hot, it could be a long season.

Projected Postseason: None

Returning Leaders:
At Bats:  Tarah Ettinger, DP/1B, 162
Hits: Tarah Ettinger, DP/1B, 53
Home Runs: Tarah Ettinger, DP/1B, 10
RBIs: Tarah Ettinger, DP/1B, 42
Runs: Tarah Ettinger, DP/1B, 21
Stolen Bases: Shelby Davis, OF, 13

Wins: Simone Freeman, P, 12
Innings Pitched: Simone Freeman, P, 127
Strikeouts: Simone Freeman, P, 157
Saves: Simone Freeman, P, 1


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