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Women’s College World Series 2024: Full preview and schedule for Oklahoma vs. Texas

The Oklahoma Sooner seniors’ dream of winning the Women’s College World Series in each of their four seasons lives on. Standing in the way are the Texas Longhorns, who are trying to win their first WCWS title. Neither team took the easy route to reach the final series.

The top-seeded Longhorns ran into trouble in their home super region against Texas A&M. The Aggies won the first game of the series and pushed the home team in the other two, nearly opening the field before things got going in Oklahoma City.

UT marched through its first three games at Devon Field without giving up a point. That’s not to say it wasn’t challenged. It took a run in the seventh inning to beat Stanford’s NiJaree Canady 1-0 on Monday. That left the Longhorn sitting at home and resting as they waited to see if they would face future SEC foe Florida or the Sooners, who will join Texas in forsaking the Big 12 for the SEC next year .

For the second-seeded Sooners, the problems came in Oklahoma City. They went through the early rounds at Love’s Field in Norman. In OKC, they edged Duke to open the WCWS before winning a tight 1-0 game against UCLA. Then came Florida.

The Sooners had won twenty games in a row at the WCWS. They were never ruled by the run. The Gators ended that winning streak and came close to capturing the eight-point victory in the opening game of their semifinals. There was no real doubt and OU was pushed into the game if necessary on Tuesday afternoon.

The Gators were in control for most of the game. They hit three home runs in the first three innings and led 5-2 with their freshman Keagan Rothrock in the circle.

The Sooners chipped away, closing the gap to 5-4 in the fourth and tying it in the sixth. Meanwhile, UF’s offense stalled against senior Kelly Maxwell, as the Oklahoma State transfer put out five straight innings starting in the fourth, allowing her team to pull ahead with just one run in the bottom of the eighth.

Senior Jayda Coleman got that run with a leadoff home run to lead the Gators, 6-5. Not only did it keep the hopes of the Sooners’ seniors alive, but it also set up the program to pursue some historic achievements.

If OU can defeat their Texas rivals in the final series, it will mark their eighth title. That ties with Arizona for the second-highest ranking in Division I history. UCLA leads all programs with 12.

It would also be the first time a program has won four titles in consecutive years. Currently, both UCLA and Oklahoma have three straight titles. Arizona has four in a row, but those championships did not come in consecutive years. The Wildcats won every title awarded from 1993 to 1997, but there was no official champion in 1995 after UCLA’s victory over Arizona was nullified.

To reach these points, the Sooners must avenge their regular-season series loss. The Longhorns defeated OU two games to one in early April. Both wins were close 2-1 victories and both came in Austin.

The Sooners got some revenge in the Big 12 Softball Tournament last month to take the title. It happened on the same field where the two teams will face each other from Wednesday.

The most interesting part of this game is the head coaches’ pitching decisions. Who will start? How long will her leash be? Will they stick with the patterns they had in the WCWS or will they try to mix things up?

Kelly Maxwell pitched in three of Oklahoma’s four games in OKC. She threw 32.2 of the Sooners’ 59 innings in the postseason, including all eight against Florida in Tuesday’s elimination game.

Will Maxwell be back in the circle on Wednesday, or will head coach Patty Gasso ask one of the other three who have appeared in the postseason to take some of the burden off their top performer? Kierston Deal has pitched six of the team’s 27 innings at the WCWS, second only to Maxwell with 15. That seems to make her the most likely second option.

However, Gasso played primarily with Maxwell and Nicole May in all four games against the Longhorns during the regular season. Maxwell threw 17 innings in three appearances. She had an ERA of 2.06, a WHIP of 0.88 and 23 strikeouts against UT. May pitched 6.1 innings, giving up two earned runs on five hits and a walk, while striking out nine in two appearances.

UT was a little more balanced in the circle last season. Freshman Teagan Kavan and junior Mac Morgan have thrown nearly the same number of innings, with the rookie throwing 27 of the team’s 61 innings and the vet throwing 25.1 innings. In OKC, Kavan threw 14 innings in two games and Morgan hit five in the run-rule win over Florida.

If Texas head coach Mike White keeps up what he did in the WCWS, Kavan should see a lot of innings. However, that’s not how the Longhorns found the most success in their four games against OU this season.

Earlier this year, Citlaly Gutierrez was the primary pitcher against the Sooners. Both Morgan and Kavan pitched fewer than five innings and made just one appearance in the four games against OU. Both were paired with Estelle Czech, who threw a total of six innings in two appearances.

Gutierrez appeared in two of the four games between the teams, throwing complete games each time. She won once and took the loss the second time. She gave up 13 hits, but limited the damage to three earned runs for an ERA of 1.50 and a WHIP of 0.93. She had 12 strikeouts in the two games, including 10 strikeouts in the Longhorns’ loss in the Big 12 Tournament.

However, Gutierrez has fallen out of favor lately. Her inconsistency has kept her in the dugout for most of the postseason while Kavan and Morgan have taken charge. With so much at stake, it will likely remain that way.

These two teams know each other very well this season and historically. They have seen in the circle what the other has to offer. Gasso has an experienced senior in Maxwell who transferred during the offseason to become part of a dynasty. White has Kavan, a freshman who has shown composure all week as she tries to pitch her team to its first national title. Both have deep bullpens. Both have strong offenses that never give up. One will make history.

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