CLEARWATER — Samantha Show frequently whizzed softballs past opposing batters. She also blasted them out of the park once she got to the plate.
More than possessing a powerful arm and big bat, Show infused Oklahoma State with an attitude, a certain swagger whenever she sent softballs over the fence. She punctuated home runs by flipping her bat with a flourish.
Sometimes, it was just a casual twirl. Others were more emphatic. The most memorable came in the College World Series when Show used both hands to spike the bat as if it were a football, channeling her inner Gronkowski.
“I think (the bat flip) showed that it’s comfortable to play as yourself,” Show said.
Those big plays — and moments — are no longer provided by Show. Her playing days are over.
Still, the former star continues to make an impact with the program, instilling the same intensity she displayed in leading the Cowgirls to the College World Series last year.
Only now Show, who remained on campus to pursue a second degree, does it as a graduate assistant coach.
On Thursday, Show spent time working on mechanics with the players in the batting cages at Clearwater’s Eddie C. Moore Complex. During Oklahoma State’s opening games against Virginia Tech and USF at the St. Pete/Clearwater Elite Invitational, Show coached along the first-base line.
She continuously clapped, encouraging players, hoping to drive home the importance of playing with passion.
“There’s some girls here that have that in them, that can show that kind of emotion, maybe not a bat flip, but something to get the team going,” Show said.
During her softball smashes last year, Show often would pause to track their flight before tossing her bat aggressively.
The flips went viral, stirring all kinds of emotions. Some viewed them as egregious acts, violations of baseball and softball etiquette. Others were thrilled by the display of unfiltered joy.
“I think Sam, before she bat flipped, had already brought that fire,”coach Kenny Gajewski said. “The bat flip was just a culmination of who she wanted to be and play like. It was just an expression. That’s all it was. There was never a negative connotation behind it to anybody.
“I think some people at first really took that the other way, and once they started paying attention to the way she handled all of that, they started to realize that she just loves to play. Her mentality, demeanor and toughness was something we needed.”
Show said most of the reactions were positive, and they did not come solely from female athletes or fans.
“I hope what I did last year showed that it’s okay to do that in this sport,” Show said. “I’ve had boys come up to me and say, ‘Oh my gosh; you’re Samantha Show.' The impact that I’ve had or still do is cool because it’s branching out to other sports."
Show, a transfer from Texas A&M, made all those headlines in just one year with Oklahoma State. Replacing her production is no easy task, but reinforcements did arrive via the transfer portal with the additions of Hayley Busby (Virginia), Carrie Eberle (Virginia Tech) and Alysen Febrey (Georgia). Oklahoma State’s transfer class was rated tops in the country by Softball America.
Gajewski said the newcomers are capable of delivering the same kind of passion.
“Febrey plays with that same demeanor and attitude,” he said. “I’m not sure you’ll see the bat flip, but she certainly is capable. She’ll still hit the same kind of home runs and attitude. It’s something that I’ve always wanted, and that we’re starting to get, that Oklahoma State blue-collar, chip-on-your-shoulder mentality.”
The newcomers made a difference for the Cowgirls in Thursday’s 14-6 win over Virginia Tech. Febrey went 2-for-4 with a homer, sans bat flip. Busby drove in three runs. And Eberle picked up a save.
“We’re a different team,” Gajewski said. “We have a lot of new faces. But we’re really talented. We just have to figure out the whole playing as a team part.”
For intensity — and showmanship — they know they can turn to familiar face on staff.
St. Pete/Clearwater Elite Invitational
Where: Eddie C. Moore Complex, 2780 Drew St., Clearwater
Tickets: Tournament passes are sold out. Single-game tickets for Fields 1 and 3 can be purchased at the gate on the day of the game for $25 ($20 for youth). Tickets for the Wednesday game between Team USA and Liberty University will be available for $5 one hour before the 6 p.m. start. Find more info here.
Friday: South Carolina vs. Virginia Tech, 10 a.m. (ESPNU), Alabama vs. USF, 10:30 a.m. (ESPN3), Minnesota vs. Oklahoma State, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN3), Georgia vs. Kansas, noon (SEC), Washington vs. FSU, 1 p.m. (ESPNU), Liberty vs. Missouri, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN3), Northwestern vs. Georgia, 3 p.m. (ESPN3), Texas Tech vs. James Madison, 3 p.m. (ESPN3), UCLA vs. Alabama, 4 p.m. (ESPNU), Oklahoma State vs. Missouri, 5:30 p.m. (ESPN3), Minnesota vs. FSU, 6 p.m. (ESPN3), South Carolina vs. Kansas, 6 p.m. (ESPN3), Washington vs. Liberty, 7 p.m. (ESPN3)
Saturday: Texas Tech vs. Georgia, 10 a.m. (ESPN3), Alabama vs. Oklahoma State, 10:30 a.m. (SEC), Kansas vs. Northwestern, 10:30 a.m. (ESPN3), UCLA vs. Liberty, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN3), Missouri vs. Virginia Tech, 1 p.m. (ESPN3), Kansas vs. James Madison, 1:30 p.m. (ESPN3), FSU vs. Northwestern, 2 p.m. (ESPN3), UCLA vs. Georgia, 4 p.m. (ESPNU), Virginia Tech vs. Minnesota, 5 p.m. (ESPN3), USF vs. Texas Tech, 5:30 p.m. (ESPN3), James Madison vs. Missouri, 6 p.m. (ESPN3), Washington vs. South Carolina, 8 p.m. (ESPNU)
Sunday: Georgia vs. USF, 9 a.m. (ESPN3), Missouri vs. Minnesota, 9:30 a.m. (ESPN3), Texas Tech vs. Washington, 10 a.m. (ESPNU), Team USA vs. Oklahoma State, 10 a.m. (ESPN3), FSU vs. Liberty, noon (ESPN3), Northwestern vs. Virginia Tech, noon (ESPN3), James Madison vs. South Carolina, 12:30 p.m. (ESPN3), Team USA vs. Washington, 12:30 p.m (ESPN3), USF vs. UCLA, 3 p.m. (ESPN3), FSU vs. UCLA, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)