OKLAHOMA CITY — The bat flip was amazing. The pitching performance was incredible.
Ladies and gentlemen, it was Showtime in Oklahoma City on Thursday night.
Samantha Show hit two solo home runs and pitched a complete game in Oklahoma State’s 2-1 victory over Florida in the opening round of the Women’s College World Series at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium.
The Cowgirls (45-15) recorded their first WCWS victory since 1998 and await the winner of Thursday’s late game between Oklahoma and Alabama in a winners bracket game at 8:30 p.m. Friday.
Show’s sixth-inning blast to straightaway center field sent OSU fans into a frenzy. She punctuated the shot by slamming her bat into the ground, and her weapon of choice did cartwheels toward the Cowgirls’ dugout.
She smiled when asked if the celebration was premeditated. After all, she has become known for flair after hitting a home run.
“Anything that happens after a home run of mine, I don’t plan out,” Show said. “Just whatever emotion I have inside me. Normally I have so much, that’s why the dramatic bat flips happen because it just needs to come out. I’m very emotional.”
Fans were just getting settled into their seats in the first inning when the OSU senior made her presence felt as she hit Florida ace Kelly Barnhill’s 0-2 pitch into the right-field seats.
Her second home run will be remembered for years in Cowgirls lore as she became the first pitcher in WCWS history to hit two homers in a game.
“When she hit the second one, I’ll be honest, I wasn’t thinking home run. I just wanted a good at-bat,” OSU coach Kenny Gajewski said. “Right when it left her bat, I just felt the crowd, it went through me. I mean, it was crazy. Kind of a surreal experience.
“But it was big. Those are big. I think those were our only two hits. I don’t know that we hit another ball hard. It was a Sam Show day.”
Show (22-8) allowed six hits, struck out two and walked none. She retired nine in a row in the middle of the game and battled when the Gators’ first two batters got on base in the seventh inning.
Even in that late-game moment, she was poised.
“I knew that if I worked ahead and threw some quality pitches, my defense would make the plays for me. It’s exactly what they did (with) some really good plays made behind me,” Show said. “Never in my mind did I think we were out of it. They had runners in scoring position, but I knew even if they did score, it wouldn’t be over. We would go back, have good at-bats, hopefully score again.
“But there were no doubts in my mind.”
Florida coach Tim Walton faced Show when she played for Texas A&M. The Gators had success against her last season. This was different.
“I don’t think she’s a different pitcher. I think she’s a whole entirely different person,” Walton said. “You look at everything about her. It’s different, better in every sense of the word. She’s just done a good job all the way around. It almost looks like she’s completely comfortable in who she is right now, competing both offensively and defensively.”
Florida scored its only run in the second inning. Jordan Roberts launched a solo home run to the exact spot when Show’s first homer landed in right field.
Show was 2-for-3. The rest of the Cowgirls were 0-for-21 against Barnhill (34-13), who struck out nine and walked one.
After Show’s second homer, the Cowgirls fought to get the final six outs to secure the victory.
“It’s a big deal for us. We can finally just kind of relax and not have to worry about pushing that first win,” OSU’s Madi Sue Montgomery said. “I think we came out pretty relaxed and normal — having fun, playing the game that we love. It’s nice to break down the next barrier. We just want to keep going. We’re not done.”
Several of the OSU players have gotten tattoos with the letters FTG (“for the girls”) to celebrate their camaraderie.
“It’s something we made a deal on: If we ever made it to the World Series, when we make it to the World Series, we’d all get it,” Michaela Richbourg said. “Some got it a week ago. Then we went and got it the other day.”
Is Gajewski going to do the same?
“Yes, I think I’m wrangled into the tattoo deal,” he said. “But it will be on my foot.”
OKLAHOMA STate 2, FLORIDA 1
OSU 100 001 0 — 2 2 2
Florida 010 000 0 — 1 6 0
Show and Thomas; Barnhill and Roberts. W: Show (22-8). L: Barnhill (34-12). HR: OSU, Show 2 (20); UF, Roberts (9).