Maxwell’s 3-hitter leads Oklahoma St. past Florida in WCWS

Jun 4, 2022, 7:00 AM | Updated: 8:12 pm
Oklahoma State's Kelly Maxwell pitches in the second inning of the team's NCAA softball Women's Col...

Oklahoma State's Kelly Maxwell pitches in the second inning of the team's NCAA softball Women's College World Series game against Florida on Saturday, June 4, 2022, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)

(AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma State pitcher Kelly Maxwell faced an extra obstacle — a random drug test — ahead of her Women’s College World Series game against Florida.

Oklahoma State coach Kenny Gajewski said Maxwell was one of five Cowgirls players to undergo the tests after Thursday’s win over Arizona. The first-team NFCA All-American was drained after striking out 14 in the win against the Wildcats. Gajewski said Maxwell’s initial sample returned diluted. She eventually passed, but she did not get back to the team hotel until 3:15 a.m. Friday.

Maxwell still performed exceptionally well on Saturday. She threw a three-hitter and struck out nine, and No. 7 seed Oklahoma State defeated No. 14 Florida 2-0 to advance to the semifinals.

But Gajewski was disappointed in the situation. He said he was fortunate that Oklahoma State won its opener and had a day off in between games or the long wait would have been a bigger issue.

“I’m not mad at anyone,” he said. “I just know this process needs to probably be looked at to see if we maybe can do it in the mornings of game days or something. The first games, no problem, right? They are done. But we have a long game, we start a half an hour late, then we go through this deal. It’s rough.”

Maxwell said the situation affected her.

“Yeah, my rest has been a little short just with what happened the other day,” she said. “I think I got some sleep and just recovered and then focused today on going after the hitters. I did get a little tired at the end, but I was able to push through.”

Gajewski called it a safety issue that needs to be reviewed before next season.

“These girls are important,” he said. “They are highly talented, they are wound tight, their muscles are wound tight, they’re fit and strong. When you disrupt rest on these type of kids at this point in a year, it really has a negative impact that can really last. So I just want to make sure that her voice is heard. She’s not going to say a word. So that’s really all it’s about.”

Maxwell had enough energy to throw 121 pitches in her 12th shutout of the season. She allowed a hit and a walk to start the game, then retired the next 15 batters.

Florida second baseman Hannah Adams said Maxwell was on.

“She’s a really good pitcher, we knew that coming in,” Adams said. “She did a really nice job of mixing her location, mixing speeds. You couldn’t really guess a pitch that was coming. She just did a really nice job of mixing speeds and locations.”

Former Florida catcher Julia Cottrill finished with three hits for Oklahoma State. Chyenne Factor had two hits and knocked in a run for the Cowgirls (48-12), who will play the winner of Sunday’s Arizona-Texas game on Monday.

It was quite a day for the Big 12. No. 1 seed Oklahoma defeated fellow Big 12 member Texas in the early game to advance to the semifinals.

Lexie Delbrey (15-4) took the loss for Florida. She gave up a run and four hits in 2 1/3 innings.

Oklahoma State got on the board in the third when Factor’s bunt single scored Cottrill.

The Cowgirls scored again in the fourth when Cottrill’s single plated Sydney Pennington. Oklahoma State loaded the bases with two outs, but Florida escaped.

The Gators got runners on first and second with one out in the sixth, but did not score. Florida (49-18) got a runner to third with two outs in the seventh, but again, Oklahoma State held on.

Florida will play No. 5 UCLA in an elimination game on Sunday.

“It’s a different path, but we get another opportunity to play an extra game,” Florida coach Tim Walton said. “I think that’s the way we have to look at it. We’re going to have to play extra games now to get to where we want to get to.”

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Maxwell’s 3-hitter leads Oklahoma St. past Florida in WCWS