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Oklahoma State ‘Ready’ and ‘Excited’ for Regionals on Friday

When Oklahoma State saw it was the No. 6 overall seed in the NCAA tournament, it felt a burst of energy heading into hosting a regional. 

“I felt like it gave us some air in our tires,” OSU coach Kenny Gajewski said. “I don’t know how much of that is real, but I know it put air in my tires. I just feel good about where these guys are.”

Oklahoma State will look to use that burst of energy when it hosts Wichita State, Nebraska and UMBC in the Stillwater Regional at Cowgirl Stadium. 

“They’re all good,” Gajewski said. “They have all earned their way here just like us. It is a good one and you gotta come to play.”

For OSU, the last two weeks haven’t been so kind to them. Oklahoma State has lost 11 of its last 13 games, including a five-game losing streak. 

The Cowgirls will have to cut down on the mistakes if they want to advance in the postseason. OSU has committed 10 errors in the last five games, 17 errors in the last 13 games. But after all the struggles, Gajewski and his crew are confident this team can turn it around, and advance to Super Regionals.  

“I told them that these are things we can correct,” Gajewski said. “We have been doing a lot of live stuff in practice, trying to keep the pace fast. I loved the response.”

For the players, including catcher Taylor Tuck, it gave a sense of what it takes to win. 

“It just kind of lit a fire under us,” Tuck said. “Just really understanding the little things and focusing on everything we do in practice and making it game-like.”

OSU will look to use that fire when it takes on UMBC on Friday. 

UMBC comes in as an automatic bid, after winning the American East Conference Tournament. Gajewski knows just how dangerous they could be. 

“They look really tough and look very well coached,” Gajewski said. They know how to play and win. They have nothing to lose.”

One of UMBC’s strengths is its pitching duo, Kya Matter and Courtney Coppersmith. They are both top-50 in the country in ERA this season. 

OSU will look to match that with its pitching trio in Kelly Maxwell, Kyra Aycock and Lexi Kilfoyl. 

Maxwell hasn’t been her usual self as of late, giving up 12 runs in her last four starts, including three runs last Friday against Kansas. Maxwell is confident she will get back to where she was earlier in the season.

“I’m excited. It’s been a rough the past couple of weeks, but I think when we’re in Broken Bow, we just kind of had a reset,” Maxwell said. “I’m in a good place. I’m ready to get started.”

It won’t just be Maxwell. Aycock and Kilfoyl will need to step up if OSU wants to win against the Retrievers and make a run in the postseason. 

“It’s what we’ve set up for,” Gajewski said. “If we need to ride with Kelly, we will ride Kelly. If we need to ride Kyra, we will ride her. The idea is to get them all work to keep them all sharp.”

Oklahoma State will face UMBC on Friday at 3 p.m. at Cowgirl Stadium. The game will be broadcasted on ESPN+.