Oklahoma State softball scored two runs in the bottom of the sixth to secure a 2-0 win over Florida International in the opening game of the Gainesville Regional.
Senior pitcher Brandi Needham tossed a complete-game shutout allowing only three hits to lead the Cowgirls to victory.
With the victory, OSU moves to 4-2 in postseason games under Kenny Gajewski and is in the winners bracket for the first time in the Gajewski era.
"Good first game," Gajewski said. "I thought that Brandi was really good and under control. It was strike one for a bunch of those, and I think that was crucial for us just to get us off on the right track. I thought FIU's pitcher was really good. We had some great at-bats, but I looked up at the fourth, and we had three or four walks and had yet to turn the lineup over, which was a little bit of a concern. The most important thing was we were getting runners on base, and we just had to figure out a way to execute. We got that done in the sixth with a lead-off base hit and a big hit by Vanessa and then Madi Sue to get that last hit. I'm excited for the opportunity to be in the winner's bracket and looking forward to playing whoever that is."
Oklahoma State (36-23) found itself in a pitching battle with one of the best pitchers in the nation. FIU's Shannon Saile came into the game with a sub-2.00 ERA and showed why, holding the Cowgirls without a hit through five innings.
Needham showed she was up to the challenge of facing Saile as she retired 13-straight FIU batters during her longest streak of the game.
The Cowgirls eventually broke through with their first hit in the bottom of the sixth on a Maddi Holcomb's single to left. Vanessa Shippy's RBI double in the next at-bat scored Holcomb from first and gave OSU the 1-0 lead. Madi Sue Montgomery delivered with an RBI single two batters later to give OSU its eventual 2-0 victory.
Shippy and Montgomery led the way at the plate for the Cowgirls. Shippy finished 1-for-1 with two walks, while Montgomery went 1-for-3.
Needham (20-9) allowed just four base runners throughout the game on her way to her first postseason victory in the circle.
"Today feels great," Needham said. "Coming in, I was just trusting everybody. My defense was working their butts off with every single pitch I threw and every ground ball they got. It feels really great."
Up Next: Oklahoma State awaits the winner of Florida and FAMU at 11:00 a.m. CT tomorrow. An announcement as to what channel the game will be on will be made later tonight.