It’s time! The NCAA Softball postseason is here! The Big 12 added four teams to the field this season, after only placing four last year, with three of the schools hosting. The ultimate goal is making it to Oklahoma City and winning the regional round is the first step to getting there. Which Big 12 schools are likely to do that? Well…let’s talk about it!
Baylor Bears (39-16)
Baylor’s reward for getting bounced in the first round of the Big 12 Tournament was a trip to Salt Lake City, Utah where Ole Miss and regional hosts Utah will be waiting on them. The Bears were riding a wave of momentum heading to OKC for the conference tournament. Having swept Texas the weekend before, they were likely on track to be a regional host. That momentum came to a screeching halt though when Iowa State sent them back to Waco with an 8-1 loss.
Led by Shaylon Govan’s .382 average, the Bears have four players batting .313 or better. Govan has also knocked a team-high 11 home runs and Baylor had the fifth most runs scored in the Big 12 with 290 trips across home plate. From the circle, Dariana enters the postseason with a 14-8 record and a 1.92 ERA. The Bears are going to need to see her at her best, along with some offensive backup, in order to survive and advance.
Baylor isn’t your typical “second-best team” team at a regional. They were on the verge of being a host themselves had they not stumbled in OKC. They push Utah to the brink and should come out with a regional title.
Prediction To Advance From Salt Lake City: Baylor
Texas Longhorns (42-13-1)
The Longhorns ended the regular season in a bit of a funk with getting swept by Baylor but they did manage to bounce back at the conference tournament, advancing to the championship game. Texas finished second in the regular season standings and were the runners up to conference tournament champion Oklahoma, yet they’re the third lowest seeded team in the Big 12 at #13. Considering where they finished in the conference standings, and the fact that they swept Oklahoma State during the regular season, the Longhorns feel as if they are deserving on a Top 8 seed and not the Cowgirls.
Backed by Mia Scott’s .390 average, the Longhorns were second in the Big 12 in batting average (.330), runs scored (347), and third in home runs (52). A team ERA of 2.26 placed Texas at third in the conference but the balance of power from the circle and clutch hitting from the plate firmly placed the Longhorns as the second best team in the Big 12, regardless of what the national seedings say.
Interestingly enough, the committee placed old Big 12 and future S.E.C. rival Texas A&M in the Austin Regional as the top challenger to the Longhorns. Yeah, this is going to be a lot of fun.
Prediction To Advance From Austin: Texas
The Surprise Underdogs
Oklahoma State Cowgirls (41-14)
The Cowgirls feature one of the best hitting and pitching duos in the Big 12 with Rachel Becker (.457 BA) and Kelly Maxwell (1.89 ERA). However, they also struggled to the finish line by losing ten of their final twelve games and then getting eliminated by Kansas in the first round of the conference tournament. Still though, the committee thought enough of OSU to give them a #6 national seed. The problem is that they are also sending Wichita State to Stillwater and the Shockers are 2-0 against the Cowgirls this season.
OSU certainly isn’t sprinting into the postseason and if they can’t generate momentum early then they’re going to be in a lot of trouble in this one. If they can make it to Sunday unbeaten then they’ll be sitting pretty good. If they enter the final day of the regional with a loss, and their backs against the wall, then it won’t be a good situation.
Prediction To Advance From Stillwater: Wichita State
The Heavy Favorites
Oklahoma Sooners (51-1)
There may not be a more complete team in the field than Oklahoma. The Sooners enter the tournament as the top-overall seed and are on a nation best 43 game winning streak. Cal and Missouri bring some intrigue to the Norman Regional because both have vast experience, and success, against some of the top seeds in the field but at this point it seems like it’s all just a formality. The Sooners are at a point now where if they don’t win the national title it’ll be a disappointment, if they don’t make it to the World Series then it’ll be a disaster.
Oklahoma has the top three pitchers in the conference on its staff with Nicole May (.60) and Alex Storako (.75) each having an ERA below 1.00. Led by Jayda Coleman’s .434 batting average, with 14 home runs, they also have five of the Big 12’s Top 10 batters in the lineup. This team is a machine and seems to be laser focused on the postseason.
Prediction To Advance From Norman: Oklahoma
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