In front of the media contingent at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium on Wednesday afternoon, Oklahoma State softball coach Kenny Gajewski leaned toward the microphone and made a potent proclamation.

A strong statement, for sure. But even stronger when you know the analysis Gajewski shared with Maxwell three years ago.

why Gajewski won’t flinch when writing Maxwell’s name into the pitcher’s slot on the lineup card Thursday evening before the seventh-seeded Cowgirls take on unseeded Arizona in the first round of the Women’s College World Series, an 8:30 p.m. start at Hall of Fame Stadium.

Since the start of the Big 12 Tournament, Maxwell has allowed just one earned run over 30 ⅔ postseason innings. In the NCAA Tournament, she has thrown 20 ⅔ scoreless innings,

allowing six hits with two walks and 41 strikeouts, earning three wins and a save. She has allowed more than two earned runs in just three of her 32 appearances, including 25 starts.

That dominance Gajewski mentions shines in her stat line: a 1.16 earned-run average, an 19-4 record with 18 complete games, 11 of which were shutouts.

She has struck out 279 batters in 169 innings pitched, an average of 11.6 strikeouts per seven innings, which ranks second nationally.

And the numbers can be directly credited to the inspiration that came out of that meeting with Gajewski three years ago — after what Maxwell recently referred to as “my terrible year.”

Two critical pieces of Maxwell’s development arrived in 2020. Gajewski hired former Tulsa coach John Bargfeldt as OSU’s pitching coach, and Virginia Tech star Carrie Eberle transferred to Stillwater.