By JASON ELMQUIST
Wednesday’s game for the Oklahoma State softball team may not be against a Big 12 Conference team, but it might as well be.
The Cowgirls will host a Tulsa Golden Hurricane team that is ranked just as high as any of OSU’s conference foes, with a pitcher in the top 10 in the country in most statistical categories.
Aimee Creger, a Mustang High graduate, is 10th in the country in earned run average with an ERA of 1.17 and leads all Division I pitchers in strikeouts with 258 — averaging 12.1 strikeouts per seven innings. Those numbers have led to a 21-1 record and the Golden Hurricane (41-5) to No. 16 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Poll.
“She does a great job of keeping them in games and knowing that they are going to win,” Oklahoma State coach Rich Wieligman said. “... She’s probably similar to a Whitney Canion (from Baylor), with a better change-up. She can pitch. They are both National Team pitchers, have both pitched for the National Team and are two of the best pitchers in the country.”
While Tulsa is anchored by Creger, who struck out 16 in an 11-inning outing last time out against UTSA on Saturday, the Golden Hurricane have one of the most consistent offenses in Division I. Tulsa ranks seventh in the country in batting average at .342 and are 19th in scoring with 6.41 runs per game.
“They’ve got probably one of the best hitters in the country in Jill Barrett, she's hitting almost .500 on the year (.476),” Wieligman said. “I think she holds about every offensive number there. It helps to have hitters like that.”
The contest will be a good test for the Cowgirls during their final stretch of the season, which includes series at Texas and Texas A&M and a home-and-home with Oklahoma, all three of which are also in the top 26 in the RPI.
“It’s a tough matchup for anybody, as far as compared to the Big 12, when you play (Tulsa),” Wieligman said. “They are a solid team, a grind it out team. You are going to have to beat them for seven innings, you can't play five and think it's over.”