TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Call her The Chyenne Factor.
Factor’s solo home run to lead off the third inning Saturday broke a scoreless tie and helped No. 13 Oklahoma State earn a 3-2 win over No. 4 Florida State in Game 3 of their NCAA Super Regional at JoAnne Graf Field.
The victory sends the Cowgirls (44-15) to the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City for the first time since 2011. It will be OSU’s eighth appearance at the WCWS, which begins Thursday.
Factor, a freshman from Yukon, launched a line drive over the left-field wall off Seminoles ace Meghan King.
“I had a talk with Chy (before the game) and I told her, ‘I need you to look at me and tell me if you want to hit or not,’ ” fourth-year OSU coach Kenny Gajewski said. “I didn’t like the look in her eyes (Friday).
“She didn’t feel good — her swing. I saw her first at-bat (Friday) and should have taken her out. I challenged her (Saturday) and said, ‘I don’t need anything spectacular. I just need good at-bats.’
“She’s way beyond her years and had crucial at-bats for us all year. That home run was huge. I felt the wind come out of their sail after that home run.”
After Sydney Pennington reached on a King error, Chelsea Alexander laid down a bunt to advance her. Then the Seminoles (55-10) got sloppy with a pair of throwing errors that allowed Pennington to score.
“We didn’t play our best softball this weekend,” Florida State coach Lonni Alameda said. “There was no freakout button hit at any time. All you can do is give it your heart and soul, and that’s what we did.”
While Factor, who went 2-for-3, provided the offense, Cowgirls senior Samantha Show kept the potent Florida State lineup at bay for four innings.
“I really trust in what (assistant coach Jeff Cottrill) is calling,” said Show, who struck out four with two walks. “I love it.”
The Seminoles finally got to Show in the fifth with three singles. An RBI single to left by Leslie Farris chased Show, but Logan Simunek got out of the jam by striking out Cali Harrod before Carsyn Gordon lined out to shortstop. Gordon struck the ball well, but right at Cowgirls shortstop Kiley Naomi.
“If Carsyn’s ball gets through there, we’re probably running around pretty excited right now,” Alameda said. “It’s just the way the game goes. Unfortunately, we signed up for a game of failure and we’ve got to be happy about it. We signed up for a game where breaks go either way.”
The Cowgirls added a run in the top of the sixth. Show was hit by a pitch from Kathryn Sandercock, who replaced King to begin the fourth. Pinch-runner Shalee Brantley stole second and advanced to third on another FSU throwing error and scored on Madi Sue Montgomery’s sacrifice fly to center.
Oklahoma State needed the insurance run because the defending national champions did not go quietly in the seventh. Catcher Anna Shelnutt blasted a solo homer to left-center to lead off the inning. But Simunek used an off-speed pitch to strike out Zoe Casas swinging and got Makinzy Herzog to ground out.
“We have different off-speeds. I throw more of a change-up and (Simunek) has a little bit of an up movement to hers,” Show said. “I can’t be more proud of Logan Simunek. She’s stepped up and proved herself these past couple weeks, coming in in relief and just shutting teams down.”
When Cassidy Davis grounded out to end the game, it set off a Cowgirls celebration on the first-base side of the pitching rubber.
“We took it. We earned it,” Gajewski said. “I knew it was going to take all we had. I’m just so proud of these kids.
“They have earned this. They told me they wanted to be coached like a championship team… I’m proud of what they’ve committed to and what they accomplished.”
Oklahoma St. 3, Florida St. 2
OSU 002 001 0 — 3 3 0
FSU 000 010 1 — 2 5 4
Show, Simunek (5) and Thomas; King, Sandercock (4) and Shelnutt. W: Show (21-8). L: King (30-7). Sv: Simunek (3). HR: OSU, Factor (9); FSU, Shelnutt (11).