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Cowgirl softball's season ends with run-rule loss to Stanford in WCWS

Jun. 1—Oklahoma State was blindsided in the 2024 Women's College World Series.

A quick 1-2 punch from Florida and Stanford ended a dominant postseason run in its tracks.

Jilyen Poullard and Caroline Wang's outlook on softball was rejuvenated in just one year at Oklahoma State, making the pain of elimination that much sharper.

"I never thought I'd be in the place to say I wasn't ready to be done, but I think when you play for this type of program, you can never be ready," Wang said.

When an offense is in a slump, it's not ideal to face the USA Softball Player of the Year. Nijaree Canady led a determined Cardinal team into Devon Park and stole the momentum from the jump.

"I think it's really deflating when you're the other team. A pitcher is just mowing every single girl down," Stanford's Ava Gall said. "That kind of puts confidence in us that she just has to do her job. We'll do ours."

Canady went the distance and struck out seven batters in her shutout performance.

She also held the Cowgirls to just three hits — from Karli Godwin, Claire Timm and Lexi McDonald. OSU's best scoring chance came in the third inning with McDonald's leadoff double to left field. Megan Bloodworth bunted the pinch-running Macy Graf to third base, but a strikeout of Poullard and a lineout from Tallen Edwards stranded the run at third.

A large reason why the chances were so few and far between comes from the elite Cardinal defense. Center fielder Emily Jones robbed Micaela Wark of a possible home run in the fifth inning and then an inning later dove head first to snag a base hit away from Godwin.

"I mean, that's why you play this game," Cowgirl head coach Kenny Gajewski said. "I don't want to take anything away from Stanford. They earned this thing. They earned the win. But there was a lot of little things that just didn't go our way.

"I just feel like it's happened to us multiple times here. We've just got to find a way. It's my job to help find a way. I felt a little bit helpless here tonight, to be very honest. No matter what I tried or did, just didn't work."

In Thursday's opening round loss to Florida, Cowgirl star pitcher Lexi Kilfoyl was nearly perfect. Her lone mistake was hit 270 feet to right field for the lone run of the game. That devastating loss leaked into Friday's matchup with Stanford.

"I think it's just you feel things slipping away, even though it was early in the game," Gajewski said. "After last night, I knew it was going to be a tough one to come back from."

Kilfoyl wasn't as sharp as usual on Friday, hanging a changeup to freshman Ava Gall who smoked it to right field for the game's first run. She then allowed a two-RBI double that squeaked fair down the left field line. After another Stanford home run in the fourth, Kilfoyl was pulled from the game — ending her career in orange and black.

She watched on as Stanford scored four more runs to secure the run rule over the Cowgirls. The Cardinal are now 4-0 in elimination games this postseason

Oklahoma State ends its 2024 season with a 49-12 record and a fifth consecutive trip to OKC. Though this year ended up being the most disappointing trip of the previous four, the expectations for the team coming into the season were shattered, and with a young core returning next year, a sixth straight trip is possible.