Oklahoma is the undisputed powerhouse of college softball. The Sooners have won four national titles, including the last two in 2022 and 2021. They have a 43-game winning streak, the longest in the nation. They have the best offense, defense and pitching in the country. They are the No. 1 seed in the 2023 NCAA softball tournament and the overwhelming favorite to win it all.
But that doesn’t mean they are invincible. There are some teams that could pose a threat to Oklahoma’s dominance and potentially pull off an upset in the postseason. Here are some of the contenders and how they can challenge the Sooners.
The Bruins are the No. 2 seed in the tournament and the defending champions from 2019, the last time the Women’s College World Series was held in Oklahoma City. They have a balanced lineup that can score runs in different ways, led by star outfielder Aaliyah Jordan and catcher Maya Brady. They also have a deep pitching staff that features two-time All-American Rachel Garcia, who missed the 2021 season due to injury and Team USA commitments.
UCLA has the experience and talent to match up with Oklahoma, as they proved in 2019 when they beat the Sooners twice in the WCWS finals. They also have a favorable path to the championship round, as they would only face Oklahoma if both teams make it to the final series.
The Seminoles are the No. 3 seed in the tournament and the champions from 2018, when they upset UCLA in the WCWS finals. They have a potent offense that ranks second in the nation in home runs per game, behind only Oklahoma. They have a trio of sluggers in outfielder Elizabeth Mason, infielder Sydney Sherrill and catcher Anna Shelnutt, who combined for 47 homers this season.
Florida State also has a reliable ace in pitcher Kathryn Sandercock, who posted a 1.51 ERA and a 25-2 record this season. She has been dominant in the postseason, throwing three shutouts in four games so far. The Seminoles have the power and pitching to challenge Oklahoma, as they showed in 2018 when they beat them twice in the WCWS semifinals.
The Volunteers are the No. 4 seed in the tournament and one of only two teams that beat Oklahoma this season, along with Georgia. They have a balanced offense that ranks in the top 10 nationally in batting average, runs per game and slugging percentage. They have a pair of All-Americans in outfielder Kiki Milloy and infielder Ashley Morgan, who both hit over .400 this season.
Tennessee also has a solid pitching staff that features two-time SEC Pitcher of the Year Ashley Rogers, who posted a 1.24 ERA and a 31-6 record this season. She has been stellar in the postseason, throwing four shutouts in five games so far. The Volunteers have the confidence and consistency to challenge Oklahoma, as they showed in March when they beat them 7-1 in Norman.
The Cowgirls are the No. 6 seed in the tournament and Oklahoma’s biggest rival. They have a dynamic offense that ranks third nationally in home runs per game, behind only Oklahoma and Florida State. They have a quartet of power hitters in outfielder Alysen Febrey, infielder Sydney Pennington, catcher Reagan Wright and designated player Hayley Busby, who combined for 63 homers this season.
Oklahoma State also has a talented pitcher in Carrie Eberle, who transferred from Virginia Tech after being named ACC Pitcher of the Year in 2019. She posted a 1.81 ERA and a 23-3 record this season. She has been clutch in the postseason, throwing two shutouts and two one-run games so far. The Cowgirls have the firepower and familiarity to challenge Oklahoma, as they showed in April when they lost by one run twice to them.
Oklahoma is still the team to beat in the 2023 NCAA softball tournament, but there are some teams that could challenge its dominance and make things interesting. UCLA, Florida State, Tennessee and Oklahoma State are some of the contenders that have what it takes to pull off an upset and claim the title.
Who do you think will win the WCWS? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
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