Julia Cottrill makes Oklahoma State softball 'coaches look really good' in WCWS win vs. Florida

Scott Wright
Oklahoman
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A year ago this week, Julia Cottrill was a Florida Gator cheering for Oklahoma State at the Women’s College World Series.

On Saturday night, she was an Oklahoma State Cowgirl, helping beat Florida at the WCWS.

Cottrill had three hits, scored a run and drove in another as the seventh-seeded Cowgirls defeated 14th-seeded Florida 2-0 in winner’s bracket play at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium.

The win sends OSU (48-12) to Monday’s semifinal round, needing just one win to lock up a spot in the championship series for the first time in school history. 

Cottrill, making just her third start in nine postseason games, singled and scored in the third inning, then drove in Sydney Pennington with a single in the fourth to put the Cowgirls up 2-0. She nearly added to the lead again in the bottom of the sixth, driving a double off the center field wall that was a foot away from clearing the fence.  

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OSU catcher Julia Cottrill celebrates after hitting a double in the sixth inning of a 2-0 win against Florida on Saturday in the Women's College World Series.

Cottrill only saw four pitches all night, getting her first two hits on the first pitch of each at-bat, then doubling on the second pitch.

“I was kind of ready to go up there, get after it,” she said. “My first two pitches were good pitches to hit, so I just wanted to attack early.”

Cottrill’s last two hits came off Florida’s Natalie Lugo, who Cottrill was very familiar with, having spent 2 ½ years catching Lugo’s pitches while they were together in Gainesville.

Senior Taylor Tuck has been the Cowgirls’ primary catcher since the regular season finale against Oklahoma. Coach Kenny Gajewski downplayed any motivation to insert Cottrill into the lineup against her former team.

“We're going up against the best running team in the country,” he said. “Stolen 130 bags. That's a lot. It's wild. They can run and do some things.

“Tuck, her arm is probably her weakest spot, so we just felt like it was a good move. Then obviously, the coaches look really good when she goes 3-for-3 and drives the ball that good.”

Last year, with her Gators eliminated from the postseason, Cottrill was in the Hall of Fame Stadium bleachers with OSU fans as the team won its opening game, then lost the next two to be eliminated.

Roughly six months later, she had moved back home.

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OSU pitcher Kelly Maxwell, facing camera, hugs catcher Julia Cottrill (25) after beating Florida 2-0 on Saturday night.

A Stillwater native, she announced her decision in late November and joined the team in January, reuniting with her father, Jeff, who is the Cowgirls’ hitting coach. 

“I've got to watch this program for quite a while now,” Cottrill said. “The way they hold themselves, they're never out of a ballgame, they continue to make that the standard every year. It was really fun to watch and it's really fun to be a part of.”

Cottrill learned an hour or two before the game that she’d be playing, but afterward, didn’t put any added emphasis on the performance against her former teammates.

“The softball doesn't know who's playing,” she said. “Keeping it simple was a really big help.”

With two runs on the board, OSU pitcher Kelly Maxwell had more than enough cushion to work with. 

Maxwell allowed a leadoff bunt single to start the game, then walked the next hitter, but retired the next 15 Gators she faced. Ultimately, she allowed three hits with two walks and hit one batter, striking out nine in her 12th complete game shutout of the season.

Those nine strikeouts took Maxwell past the 300-mark for the season, becoming just the third Cowgirl pitcher to reach that plateau. Lauren Bay holds the school record with 451 strikeouts in 2003, following a season in which she had 314. Melanie Roche had 310 strikeouts in 1993. 

Maxwell now has 302 strikeouts in 183 innings pitched to go with a 21-4 record on the season.

Florida (49-18) will face UCLA in an elimination game at 2 p.m. Sunday.

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The Cowgirls will be back on the field at 6 p.m. Monday, facing the winner of Sunday’s 6 p.m. elimination game between Arizona and Texas. The winner of that game will have to beat OSU twice to advance. 

OSU is 1-0 against Arizona this season, beating the Wildcats in the first round of the WCWS, and 4-0 against Texas, sweeping the regular season series in Stillwater and beating the Longhorns in the semifinals of the Big 12 Tournament.

“We think we can beat anybody,” said senior Chyenne Factor, “and that's what we're here to do.”

More:How did Kelly Maxwell became Oklahoma State softball ace on way to WCWS? 'A thirst for getting better'

WCWS semifinals

Monday's games at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium:

Game 11: Oklahoma vs. UCLA, 11 a.m., ESPN 

Game 12 (if necessary): 1:30 p.m., ESPN

Game 13: Oklahoma State vs. Arizona/Texas winner, 6 p.m., ESPN

Game 14 (if necessary): 8:30 p.m., ESPN

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