100% of the Big 12 teams that made the field of the NCAA Softball Tournament reached the Women’s College World Series. On Thursday, all three of those teams (Oklahoma, Oklahoma State & Texas) opened the women’s softball championship with a win. Apparently the Big 12 is pretty good at softball.
Thursday’s wins put the Sooners and Longhorns on tap for a conference clash in Day 3 of the WCWS and there’s a possibility of another conference grudge match in the wings for Sunday. However, before we can get to the winner’s bracket games on Saturday we have to go to the elimination round on Friday where two teams will be saying goodbye to Oklahoma City.
Texas 7 – UCLA 2
The Bruins became the first team to head to the elimination round thanks to a huge third inning that saw the Longhorns post four runs in route to a program-best seven-run game at the Women’s College World Series.
Hailey Dolcini pitched a full seven innings, with jus six hits allowed, for Texas. The Longhorns will have a day off on Friday and will face Oklahoma on Saturday.
Oklahoma 13 – Northwestern 2
There was no stumbling out of the gate in OKC this year for the defending champs. The Sooners flashed it all on Thursday, combining great defense, dominant pitching, and power hitting to demolish Northwestern. It didn’t hurt that OU also crushed two grand slam home runs in the game.
From the pitcher’s circle Hope Trautwein was more than enough to get the Sooners into the winners bracket. The senior struck out seven batters in 4.2 innings of work but also gave way to freshman Jordy Bahl with one out remaining in the fifth. That was a sight that should ultimately evoke more confidence in an already talented group of pitchers.
Florida 7 – Oregon State 1
Like Oklahoma, Florida fell behind 1-0 in its opener of the WCWS and, like Oklahoma, the Gators turned up the heat and watched their opponent crumble. Florida posted two runs in the second, two in the fourth, and three in the fifth to score seven consecutive runs after falling behind 1-0. Avery Goelz went 2 for 3, with three RBI, for Florida and Cheyenne Lindsey went 3 for 3 with three runs scored. Charla Echols launched a solo home run over the fence in the bottom of the fifth.
Oklahoma State 4 – Arizona 2
Oklahoma State and Arizona finally gave us some drama in Thursday’s nightcap as the Cowgirls used a crucial homerun in the bottom of the sixth inning to rally past the Wildcats. With runners on second and third Karli Petty crushed the ball for a three-run homer that turned a 2-1 deficit into a 4-2 victory, completing the trifecta for the Big 12 to open the tournament.
From the circle Kelly Maxwell kept OSU in striking distance by fanning 14 Arizona batters and allowing just two runs off five hits. Oklahoma State will face Florida on Saturday.
Friday’s Elimination Games
Two teams are getting bounced on Friday and two are going to live on to try and advance to the championship series out of the loser’s bracket. Keep in mind that’s exactly what Oklahoma did last year.
Both of Friday’s games will air on ESPN2 with Northwestern and UCLA leading off at 6:00 pm (CT) followed by Arizona and Oregon State giving us an all Pac12 affair around 8:30.
Follow us on Twitter: @SportsHeartland