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Oklahoma State to ‘Let it Fly’ on Thursday Against Kansas

The regular season is over, and it’s now time for the postseason for Oklahoma State.

For the No. 8-ranked Cowgirls, postseason starts on Thursday in the Big 12 Tournament against Kansas. 

“We’re going to play the Cowgirl way,” OSU coach Kenny Gajewski said on Tuesday. “We are going to play with great passion and energy. We will play well. I don’t have any doubt about that.” 

The Jayhawks have lost five of their last seven games, including a series loss against Iowa State this past weekend. But just like every year, Gajewski knows teams are different come postseason time. 

“(Kansas is) going to come out with great energy because their postseason life is on the line,” Gajewski said. “What we did in the regular season against them doesn’t matter now.”

Oklahoma State roughed up the Jayhawk pitching staff in its series earlier in the year. The Cowgirls scored 19 runs in the series, including home runs from Micaela Wark, Rachel Becker, Kiley Naomi and Morgyn Wynne.

“We just need to continue to have high end at bats and just let it fly,” Gajewski said. “We need the middle of our order to produce. I would say that’s probably the biggest thing.”

Lyric Moore and Bruno Olivia are the main contributors in the Jayhawk offense. Olivia leads the team in RBIs with 26, while Moore leads the team in hits with 42. 

The Cowgirl pitching staff tamed the duo earlier in the year as Moore had three hits and an RBI in the series against Oklahoma State, while Olivia had one hit and two strikeouts. 

OSU will counter the Jayhawk offense with the dynamic trio of Kelly Maxwell, Lexi Kilfoyl and Kyra Aycock. 

Maxwell was dominant in a game against Kansas earlier in the year, as she totaled 11 strikeouts in the 5-1 win over the Jayhawks on April 7. 

The senior wasn’t as sharp this past weekend against Oklahoma. She gave up six runs in the series against the top-ranked Sooners, including two runs that gave OU the win on Saturday.

Despite the tough end to the regular season, Gajewski has confidence that Maxwell will return to her normal self for the postseason.

“She had a rough weekend, but Kelly is fine,” Gajewski said. “I don’t have any doubts about that at all. I wouldn’t worry about her. I think she is in a good spot.”

Aycock was strong this past weekend against the Sooners, giving up two runs combined in the series.

“She’s competitive and fearless,” Gajewski said. “I don’t feel like we’ve seen the best of her yet because she is just a puppy. She can just go out and make it happen.”

The Cowgirls are ready for a change in the postseason as they have lost 10 of their last 12 games.

“I don’t think we’ve been in bad spirits,” Gajewski said. “I’ve just felt like we’ve been protecting something that doesn’t matter, and playing not to lose instead of attacking and playing to win.” 

Oklahoma State will take on Kansas on Thursday at 3 p.m. at Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City. The game will be streamed on ESPN+.