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Apr. 22—The Oklahoma State softball team pushed its winning streak to a dozen games Wednesday night at Cowgirl Stadium.
In its first mid-week game in four weeks, OSU battled with UT-Arlington until a big fourth inning propelled the Cowgirls to victory on a chilly night.
OSU won, 9-3, extending its win streak to 12 games, with the last loss coming March 26 in the weekend series opener at Kansas.
"I thought our kids competed at the plate," OSU coach Kenny Gajewski said. "It was good to get Logan (Simunek) out there. She's still not where I know she can be, and I think it's just purely not enough work. We've got to figure out ways to get her that and get her back sharp. I don't think she's feeling great. I'm not sure she'd tell you that, but she's been sick all week. It's good for her to go out and grind through her innings."
Since giving up seven runs in that loss at KU, the Cowgirls haven't allowed more than three runs in a game.
A big reason for that has been the team's pitching.
Senior Logan Simunek started the game and threw four innings, allowing five hits, three runs and three walks. It was her first start since giving up six runs in a 6-5 loss to Kansas City on March 19.
Although it wasn't her best outing, Simunek was happy to be back on the mound for an extended time. She had only pitched more than a single inning once since that loss to KC.
"I don't think it was my best performance," Simunek said. "I felt not blah, but I didn't have my best stuff tonight. I did enough to get by for the most part."
Gajewski said Simunek has and will be a vital piece of the team's pitching staff. He said she hasn't had a lot of opportunities this season because of the rotation.
"It's good for her (to get the win)," Gajewski said. "I talk to her every day and try to encourage her. She's a kid that doesn't seem to need a lot of that. She gets it. She loves being here, too. She knows who's ahead of her. I don't want to say she's accepted her role, because no one wants to accept if you're the third one, but she's not moping around here. She works hard. She loves to pitch and she cherishes every opportunity that she gets.
"I promise you I have no qualms about running her out there against anyone. ... We're going to need her to win. It's just the way it works. You get into conference and regional games and you need three arms. We're going to have to count on her, and she knows that."
The Cowgirls' top two pitchers also threw Wednesday night because OSU won't play again for six days. Kelly Maxwell threw two innings while Carrie Eberle came in for the seventh inning.
They combined to strike out seven of the nine batters they faced. Maxwell's strike out of the second batter in the fifth inning was the first strike out for either team.
"Kelly and Carrie came in and did what they do and dominate," Gajewski said. "... We were trying to get Logan four (innings) and mix and match Kelly and Carrie. That was the plan from the get-go."
The Mavericks (14-25) entered the game 2-0 against Gajewski, and they even took a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Two singles and a sacrifice bunt put runners in scoring position before Madison Miller came through a clutch, two-out, two-run single to center field.
OSU responded by tying the game in the bottom half on the inning. A pair of singles and a walk loaded the bases before two sacrifice flies pushed two runs across the plate.
Kylie Naomi and Alysen Febrey later hit solo home runs to give OSU a 4-3 advantage as the Mavericks scored another run in the third inning.
The Cowgirls blew the game open with five runs in the fourth inning. It began with a flyout and walk before the Cowgirls hit three singles and two doubles with a walk in there, as well.
OSU senior Reagan Wright, who transferred to OSU this year from UTA, was 2 for 2 at the plate with a double and triple after she was hit by a pitch in her first plate appearance.
"It was good to see everyone," Wright said. "But, I'm glad we came out with the win, obviously. I was just seeing the ball really well, and had an advantage knowing those girls and having hit off them in practice many times before."
OSU will play five-straight road games before hosting Bedlam-rival Oklahoma for a weekend series beginning May 7. The Cowgirls are off this weekend, but will play at Wichita State and Tulsa next Tuesday and Wednesday before traveling to Texas for the weekend.
Follow News Press sports reporter Jimmy Gillispie on Twitter @jgillispie_stw for updates on Oklahoma State athletics.