Big 12

Five Toughest Opponents Remaining On Oklahoma Softball Schedule

Five Toughest Opponents Remaining On Oklahoma Softball Schedule

Here’s a look at the five toughest opponents remaining on Oklahoma softball’s regular-season schedule as Big 12 Conference play gets into full swing.

Mar 14, 2024 by Briar Napier
Five Toughest Opponents Remaining On Oklahoma Softball Schedule

As Oklahoma softball head coach Patty Gasso told reporters following the end of her team’s NCAA-record 71-game winning streak earlier this month, “We are human.”

It often seemed for much of the past few years that the Sooners were playing in a completely different stratosphere compared to the rest of the sport, but alas, even softball’s most powerful teams have off nights. The Sooners’ miscues, however, just happen to be a lot rarer.

Maybe in the aftermath of the Sooners’ lone defeat on the year, we’ll see some more teams cracking the OU code and giving the Sooners fits. Or maybe, like last season, when OU was defeated early in the year before romping the rest of the way to the national title, it’ll make the Sooners stronger, while the rest of college softball is playing for second place.

Oklahoma’s conference season got underway without a hitch last weekend, as the Sooners swept Iowa State at the sparkling new Love’s Field on the OU campus, but more potential dangers await – and the road to OU’s fourth consecutive national title may be tougher than ever.

Here’s a look at the five toughest opponents remaining on Oklahoma softball’s regular-season schedule as Big 12 Conference play gets into full swing: 


Bound for the Southeastern Conference with the Sooners next season, the Longhorns – who were the last team currently in the Big 12 other than the Sooners to win the regular-season league title back in 2010 – have stormed back to national prominence under former Oregon coach Mike White, and they’re in serious contention to potentially join OU at the Women’s College World Series this year. 

Texas’ Big 12 title hopes took a ding on the opening weekend of the conference season, as it dropped a game to in-state rival and newcomer Houston, but wins over UCLA (twice, including one by mercy rule), Tennessee and Stanford already this season firmly establish the Longhorns as OU’s biggest challenge at the top of the Big 12, with the Red River rivals scheduled to square off against each other with a three-game series from April 5-7 in Austin. 

Texas ranks in the top 10 nationally (as of Wednesday morning) in team batting average (.398, second) and ERA (1.49, ninth), has four hitters batting over .400 – including sophomore Reese Atwood, who is up to 10 home runs and a nation-leading 41 RBIs – and has a lethal starting rotation in Citlaly Gutierrez, Mac Morgan and Teagan Kavan that already has pitched nine shutouts between them.

Oklahoma State

The Cowgirls and coach Kenny Gajewski often don’t get enough credit for how perennially strong of a program they have, as their noisy neighbors in Norman garner much of the spotlight. 

Winning at any point against the Sooners when the two face off at Love’s Field during the final weekend of the regular season sure would be an explosive way to get some national attention. 

Holding a 20-3 overall record as of Wednesday morning, Oklahoma State hasn’t missed a beat from its 47-win team from a season ago, even after losing some big pieces in the offseason. 

Lexi Kilfoyl (9-2, 0.77 ERA) and Ivy Rosenberry (5-1, 0.79 ERA) have been spectacular in the circle for the Cowgirls to start the season, easing worries after OSU lost All-American Kelly Maxwell – a former Big 12 Co-Pitcher of the Year – to the Sooners in a shock transfer after the 2023 season

The Cowgirls’ offense isn’t as explosive as powerful Big 12 rivals OU and Texas, but it’s still a very good unit that averages 6.57 runs per game (20th in the country) and bats .333 (22nd in the country) with the likes of Claire Timm (team-high .418 average and 21 runs) and Caroline Wang (.362 average, .725 slugging, six home runs) leading the charge at the plate. 


Baylor’s five losses this season have come to a pair of national elites in Tennessee (twice) and Oklahoma State (twice), as well as Louisiana, the team that ended Oklahoma’s NCAA-record win streak in Norman on March 3. 

Yeah, it would be silly to count out the Bears as an afterthought, against the Sooners and beyond, especially considering that Baylor was the only team to defeat OU during its record-smashing 61-1 season in 2023 that saw it win a historic third consecutive national championship. 

On offense, the star of the show has been Shaylon Govan, who has followed up her All-Big 12 first-team season last year by hitting .500 through 21 games in 2024 to be one of seven players (minimum 40 at-bats) in the country who hold that mark. 

Meanwhile, in the circle, starting pitcher RyLee Crandall (7-0, 1.19 ERA) is on fire. The sophomore picked up her second career Big 12 Pitcher of the Week honor this week following a one-hit, complete-game shutout – being that one hit shy of a perfect game, as she retired 21 of a possible 22 batters – in the Bears’ statement 2-0 win over Oklahoma State. 

So, with that type of talent, what’s stopping Baylor from taking down Oklahoma once again during their series in Norman from March 22-24?

Texas Tech

OU’s upcoming Big 12 opponent, as the Sooners will travel to Lubbock for their three-game series with the Red Raiders from Friday-Sunday, Texas Tech – which finished last in the Big 12 a season ago with a 31-22 overall record and a 5-13 conference mark – is on pace to smash last year’s win total.

The Red Raiders enter this weekend’s dates with Oklahoma holding a 21-5 record. 

A conference-opening series win over BYU in Provo was a great way for the Texas Tech to start Big 12 play, following a nonconference slate in which it narrowly lost (9-8) to 2023 national runner-up Florida State. 

Texas Tech hasn’t made a NCAA regional since 2019, but an instant resume-booster would be taking down the Sooners, a feat much easier said than done, as Tech hasn’t defeated OU since 2012 and has lost 34 games in a row against the three-time defending national champions. 

Still, Tech’s got a fighting chance until the final pitch is thrown this weekend.

Riley Love, for instance, is up to 10 homers and 36 RBIs on the season, and she’s established herself as one of the top power hitters in the conference, while Maddy Wright (6-2, 2.03 ERA) has teamed up with Maddie Kuehl (7-3, 2.27 ERA) to form an effective duo of starting pitchers. 


One of the new kids on the block in the Big 12, the University of Central Florida has made the NCAA Tournament in three consecutive seasons, even qualifying for the super-regional round for the first time in school history in 2022 as the No. 16 national seed – ironically losing to Oklahoma in the Norman Super Regional. 

Coach Cindy Ball-Malone’s program has won at least 40 games in each of the past three years, and while the Knights have just a 14-8 record to start the 2024 season, they’ve also gone through a brutal nonconference slate that has included games against Tennessee, Missouri, Mississippi State and Oregon, all big names with WCWS potential. 

Picking up their first Big 12 series victory last weekend against Kansas, are more conference victories – against opponents, up to and including, mighty Oklahoma – to come for UCF? 

Time will tell, and some upcoming series against Oklahoma State and Texas, who the Knights get over the next two weekends, should say a lot about how UCF can hang with the Big 12’s elite. 

Still, players such as Jada Cody (.413 average) and Sarah Willis (4-3, 2.19 ERA) can make the Knights competitive against anyone on their schedule, with OU coming down to Orlando for its series with UCF from April 26-28.

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