How Karli Godwin changed Oklahoma State softball’s Bedlam fortunes

How Karli Godwin changed Oklahoma State softball’s Bedlam fortunes

‘That chick is tough’: Karli Godwin hit two doubles and a home run while driving in four runs in her first Bedlam game. The OSU freshman is a game-changer in more ways than one.

Jenni Carlson

By Jenni Carlson

| May 4, 2024, 6:44am CDT

Jenni Carlson

By Jenni Carlson

May 4, 2024, 6:44am CDT

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NORMAN — Karli Godwin squeezed the last out of her first Bedlam game, pulled the softball from her glove and spiked it.

Hard.

That’s how the Oklahoma State freshman phenom does pretty much everything on a softball field. She runs hard. Throws hard. Plays hard. But most of all, she hits hard.  

“That’s my goal every time I get up to bat,” she said, “just to hit the pee out of the ball.”

Friday night, she hit as hard as the Cowgirls popped the Sooners.

OSU 6, OU 3.

On a night the Cowgirls reversed years of woe — not since 1997 had OSU won Bedlam in Norman — the reasons were many. Surprise starting pitcher Kyra Aycock worked her way out of big jams in the early innings before giving way to Cowgirl ace Lexi Kilfoyl in the fourth inning. It was a strategy employed by OSU’s first-year pitching coach Carrie Eberle.

All that Eberle, Kilfoyl and Aycock did was go out and beat Kelly Maxwell, the former Cowgirl pitcher who decided to play her final season as a Sooner.

But no one had a bigger impact than Godwin.

She went 3 for 4 with two doubles and a home run. She drove in four runs, and she nearly had a fifth RBI. Her first-inning double got all the way to the left-field wall, and it looked to have scored Tallen Edwards all the way from first base.It was close, but replay rightly ruled Edwards was out.

Still, Godwin smacking the first pitch she saw in her first Bedlam game all the way to the wall was quite the statement.

“It was just really great to get up there, first inning,” she said, “and show the girls that, ‘Hey, we got this. We can score on this girl.’”

“This girl” being Maxwell, someone Godwin no doubt met on her recruiting visits and thought she’d be playing with this season in Stillwater. But there she was Friday night, striking out two of the first three batters that she faced. The Cowgirls were whiffing badly.

Then Godwin stepped in the batter’s box.

“Any time your young kids walk up there and they hit a ball hard like that,” Cowgirl coach Kenny Gajewski said, “it even allows your older kids to kind of exhale.”

And Godwin just kept coming.

In the third inning, she hit another double to left. This one scored two runs and tied up the game.

Then in the fifth, she absolutely crushed a ball to right center. 

What did she think when she hit it?

“Well, if you really wanna know the truth,” she said in her velvety thick North Carolina accent, “I knew I hit it really well, and I thought it was going out, but Jayda Coleman jumped like she was gonna catch it.”

She laughed.

“I was like, ‘There’s no way that was not out.’”

Godwin was right — there was no way it wasn’t out. It landed several rows deep, and when it did, Love’s Field got very quiet. It was OSU’s second homer of the inning and its third homer in seven batters, going back to the Cowgirls’ half of the fourth.

OU doesn’t usually give up that many homers or that many runs.

And OU is particularly stingy in Bedlam. In games in Norman, the Sooners hadn’t given up six runs to the Cowgirls since May 2, 1985. Almost 40 years.

Godwin wasn’t impacted by any of that.

“This kid is special,” Gajewski said. “Ice water’s going right through her veins. This crowd, she wasn’t affected.”

That type of grit and resilience was one of the things Gajewski thought he was getting in Godwin when he recruited her from Lake Waccamaw, North Carolina. He knew she was a top-notch player, a top-10 national recruit according to the recruiting services, but Gajewski needed more than great talent. 

That’s because he knew the Cowgirls’ Bedlam rivals had more than talent.

“I’ve always admired what Patty’s done over here,” Gajewski said of Sooner coach Patty Gasso. “They have really tough kids. And I knew that we had to get tougher. We just had to get this tougher feel.”

Gajewski knew Godwin could help with that.

“That chick is tough,” Gajewski said. “She’s been bred and born and grown up and trained to be tough and for nothing to bother her, for no emotions to ever show.”

It’s not that Godwin doesn’t feel emotions. She was actually feeling pretty down a few weeks ago after OSU lost two of three at Iowa State. She wasn’t hitting as well as she wanted — she’d managed just one hit in the series at Ames — so she called her dad, Bruno.

(If your dad’s name is Bruno, isn’t it mandatory that you be tough?)

“You have to win the hard days to see the good ones,” he told her.

That flipped a switch in Godwin.

“Every day is not going to be perfect,” she said. “Every day is not going to be great.

“Just fight through it.”

She has done that and then some.

Now, Godwin has the Cowgirls on the verge of a series win in Bedlam. Or maybe even a sweep. They’ve also kept their hopes of sharing a Big 12 title alive, though they need some help from Texas Tech, which is playing Texas this weekend.

At the very least, though, OSU has already improved its chances of hosting not only regionals but also super regionals in the NCAA Tournament. 

“This team can do crazy things,” Godwin said. “I fully came in here expecting us to show out.”

The Cowgirls did, but no one showed out more than Godwin. She hit the pee out of the ball, though I have to admit, I had to double check with her about that saying.

I thought maybe it was a southern thing. 

Or something I didn’t quite understand because of her glorious accent.

“I was trying to keep from saying something else,” she said.

The word she was thinking would have been edgier though not suitable for all audiences. As it is, “hitting the pee out of the ball” worked just fine for Godwin.

Worked pretty well against the Sooners, too.

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Jenni Carlson is a columnist with the Sellout Crowd network. Follow her on Twitter at @JenniCarlson_OK. Email [email protected].

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