Oklahoma State’s Sydney Pennington (21) throws to first during a Women’s College World Series between Oklahoma State (OSU) and Oklahoma at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, Friday, May 31, 2019. Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman

She played on the field a number of times during her high school career. This year it was different.

Sydney Pennington stepped foot on the playing surface at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium, and she knew it was bigger than anything she had done during her prep years.

The former Sand Springs standout helped guide Oklahoma State back to the Women’s College World Series for the first time since 2011. And the pageantry and surrounding left her in awe.

“Everyone says there’s no better feeling than playing on that field at the WCWS,” Pennington said. “And they were right.”

The Cowgirls dispatched of Florida in their first game in Oklahoma City, and they found themselves in a showdown with their Bedlam rivals in the semifinals of bracket play.

“That Bedlam broke an attendance record,” Pennington said. “There were fans everywhere, but I don’t think we were super nervous, because a lot of fans were on our side.”

Needless to say, it was a magical ride for Pennington and the Cowgirls in 2019.

“Definitely a season to remember,” said Pennington, a former All World nominee who hit 10 home runs and drove in 33 during her sophomore season. “I don’t think a lot of people thought we’d get that far.

They did in part because of Pennington’s leadership. The defensive stalwart at third base was named a team captain before the Cowgirls embarked on a 45-17 campaign.

“It helped me a lot,” Pennington said. “I couldn’t let an error or a strikeout get to me. I had to show the team it’s OK. It helped me keep a level head, and it helped me stay more poised.”

Never was that more important than helping her teammates stay level-headed during Super Regional play at Florida State. The Cowgirls won the deciding game of the best-of-three series and knocked off the 2018 national champions in the process.

“Everyone thought Florida State would have it easy,” Pennington said. “We wanted to prove everyone wrong. And even though it was a really hard atmosphere to play in, we were able to win the series.”

Throughout the season, Pennington also had a front-row seat to watch Samantha Show, who transferred to the Cowgirls from Texas A&M. Pennington saw her fair share of Show bat flips, and she even resisted Show’s urging to flip her bat.

“I don’t think I had any bat flips,” Pennington said. “Sam was trying to get me to do them, but I never hold the bat long enough.”