'Scary Carrie': Oklahoma State ace Carrie Eberle shuts down Texas, propels Cowgirls to WCWS
Carrie Eberle is about as stone faced as they come in the pitching circle.
“We like to call her Scary Carrie,” shortstop Kiley Naomi said.
But when Chelsea Alexander squeezed the final out Sunday afternoon, not even Ice Veins Eberle could contain her joy. The Oklahoma State ace pumped her arms in the air twice as a huge smile spread across her face. Soon enough, she was at the bottom of an orange-and-black dogpile.
On a day the Women’s College World Series field was set, the Cowgirls grabbed the eighth and final spot. They are headed back to the Women’s College World Series after Eberle shut out the Longhorns in a do-or-die game Sunday in the best-of-three super regional.
Frankly, the WCWS wouldn’t have been as much fun without Eberle and the Cowgirls.
Oklahoma City gets a field that includes first-timer James Madison as well as familiar faces UCLA, Alabama and Arizona. But of course, the biggest fun will be in having the Bedlam sisters, both OU and OSU at Hall of Fame Stadium.
“It’s gonna be amazing,” Eberle said. “This is what I came here to do. This has been our goal all year long.
“We’re not anywhere close to being done.”
And Eberle may well be the biggest reason why the Cowgirls’ postseason run could extend deep into the WCWS.
For as many positives as OSU has going for it — they can beat you with homers or bunts, and they have a defense that is stellar, anchored on the left side of the defense by Naomi and Sydney Pennington — Eberle has taken things up a notch.
Not that she was bad in the regular season, of course. She was the Big 12 pitcher of the year.
Still, in two super-regional starts against Texas, she was almost impossible to score on. She allowed a run in the first inning of the first game.
“In the first game, if she lets that ball go through, we probably have an easy double play, she gives up no runs,” Cowgirls coach Kenny Gajewski said. “That’s how good she was.
“And this Texas team, this offense they have, it’s potent.”
It didn’t look that way against Eberle.
Even though the Longhorns had seen her in three other starts this season — a scenario that sometimes gives the hitters an advantage — she allowed only four hits in seven innings Sunday, striking out three and walking only one.
She got 13 of her 21 outs by groundball.
“That’s kind of how it’s worked for me all year,” she said. “I just trust my defense and use that drop ball.”
Ah, yes, the drop ball.
“The drop is just devastating,” Gajewski said. “I’m watching them take their practice swings. I’m watching (Texas hitting) coach (Steve) Singleton on the other side trying to get their hitters to look at things and see things and do things.”
Gajewski shook his head.
“It’s just so devastating when it’s on,” he said of Eberle’s drop ball. “When she’s not walking kids, you’re in trouble.”
Eberle pitched so well Sunday that the drama was limited to Texas getting two runners on in both the second and third innings.
“She kept the ball right at the bottom of the strike zone,” Texas coach Mike White said. “In and out all day long, and we’re unable to get balls in the air or hit it hard enough through the infield.”
Eberle wasn’t perfect.
“Unfortunately,” White said, “we missed the mistakes she made.”
But Eberle didn’t make many.
It was a command performance that Gajewski felt might be in the offing. As he drove home with family members after Saturday night’s loss, they asked how he felt about Sunday’s must-win game.
“Are you nervous?” they said.
“I’m not nervous at all,” he said. “We have Carrie, and they’re gonna have to score on Carrie.”
That didn’t happen, and when that final out was recorded and the celebration was started, it was fitting Eberle would be in the center of the mosh pit and the bottom of the dogpile.
Even Scary Carrie had to admit it was grand fun.
“I could have never dreamt I’d be in this position five years ago when I started college,” said Eberle, who played her first three seasons at Virginia Tech before transferring. “OSU was the best decision I ever made.
“It’s just such an amazing thing to be able to celebrate with these girls.”
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at 405-475-4125 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok, and support her work and that of other Oklahoman journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.