Tempe, Ariz. — Oklahoma State’s 22nd-ranked Cowgirl softball team opens the 2011 season this weekend in Tempe, Ariz. The Cowgirls will open up play on Friday afternoon and will play five games in three days at the Kajikawa Classic.
will face Cal Poly on Friday at 3 p.m. and No. 14 Arizona State at 8 p.m. On Saturday, the games will be at 3 p.m. against Cal-State Fullerton and 8 p.m. against Northwestern. will wrap up the weekend on Sunday when it plays Utah at 12:15 p.m.
Rich Wieligman enters his fifth season as the head coach of the Cowgirls and has returned to the Tournament the last two seasons. He enters the 2011 season with a 131-96 career record.
Oklahoma State returns seven position starters and two pitchers from last year’s Tournament squad which finished the season with a 44-16 record. Returning for the Cowgirls in the infield are three two-time All-Big 12 selections: Julie Ward at first base, Alysia Hamilton at second and Mariah Gearhart at third base. Also returning is All-Big 12 shortstop Chelsea Garcia.
A pair of Cowgirl catchers return behind the plate. Tamara Brown was the starter for most of the season last year, while Ashley Boyd has also seen action behind the plate. A pair of newcomers — Tarah Ettinger and Kelsea Schultz — will also compete for playing time.
must replace two four-year starters in the outfield. Sophomore Kelsey Anchors returns to her spot in centerfield, while four other Cowgirls — Aaron Adams, Sammy Jo Diffendaffer, Amy Graham and Ari Morrison — will vie for the other two positions.
Right-handed pitcher Kat Espinosa, an All-Big 12 First Team and All-Midwest Region Second Team pick last season, returns in the circle for the Cowgirls, along with senior hurler Sarah Odom. A pair of freshman pitchers — Morgan Hawkins and Simone Freeman — will also compete for playing time in the circle.
Oklahoma State also played in the 2009 Kajikawa Classic when it defeated No. 11 Stanford and went 3-1 on the weekend.