We have nearly made it to April which means the softball season is about to enter its next phase: conference play.
The Big 12 has fared well overall to this point in the season, with six of seven teams at least five games over .500. Now, they will test their mettle against one another in the first week of Big 12 play and there are some interesting matchups right out of the gate.
Everyone but Iowa State will start a three-game series this Friday, whereas the Cyclones will start Big 12 play against Texas Friday, April 1.
Here is what each team has on the docket this weekend, as we finally get to see the hierarchy in the Big 12 work itself out.
Oklahoma heads back from Lexington, Kentucky, with yet another run-rule victory; their 11th of the year and 23rd of the season. Since the start of March, the Sooners have allowed just seven runs while scoring 122 of their own. This team is clicking on all cylinders and they will host the 19-10 Baylor Bears in Norman this weekend. Oklahoma and Baylor have already faced each other this season in a “nonconference” matchup in the Rainbow Wahine Classic in Honolulu, Hawaii. Oklahoma came out on top in that one by a score of 12-3 in five innings. While I think Baylor is capable of making things interesting, I don’t expect much resistance with how the Sooners are playing right now.
|Baylor||Mar 25 (Fri)||6:30 p.m. CT||Norman, OK||TV: Bally Sports OK|
|Baylor||Mar 26 (Sat)||2:00 p.m. CT||Norman, OK||TV: Bally Sports OK|
|Baylor||Mar 27 (Sun)||12:00 p.m. CT||Norman, OK||TV: Bally Sports OK|
Oklahoma State is fresh off a great weekend that saw them go 4-0 and outscore their opponents 35-4. Now, the Cowgirls will host Texas Tech this weekend, which comes to Stillwater on a nine-game winning streak. This will likely be the most entertaining matchup of the weekend, as Oklahoma State will need to be on top of their game to come out of the weekend unscathed. Kelly Maxwell and Miranda Elish will have a chance to make a difference in this series as the Red Raiders have struggled on offense at times this season. If OSU is strong in the circle, it should have no problems having a perfect conference record after one weekend.
|Texas Tech||Mar 25 (Fri)||6:00 p.m. CT||Stillwater, OK|
|Texas Tech||Mar 26 (Sat)||2:00 p.m. CT||Stillwater, OK||TV: ESPN+|
|Texas Tech||Mar 27 (Sun)||12:00 p.m. CT||Stillwater, OK||TV: ESPN+|
After struggling early on in the season, including going 0-5 in the St. Pete Clearwater Elite Invitational, the Longhorns have looked like a different team. They have now won seven straight, including five straight over ranked opponents. Now, the Longhorns will head to Lawrence, Kansas to take on a struggling Jayhawks team. Texas is hot at the moment, and outside of Oklahoma, might be the best team in the conference right now. On the other hand, KU has lost 11 of their last 14 and looks to be heading in the wrong direction. Look for the Longhorns to handle Kansas in this series, and in convincing fashion.
|Kansas||Mar 25 (Fri)||6:00 p.m. CT||Lawrence, KS|
|Kansas||Mar 26 (Sat)||2:00 p.m. CT||Lawrence, KS|
|Kansas||Mar 27 (Sun)||12:00 p.m. CT||Lawrence, KS|
Iowa State will head to Provo, Utah, this weekend to take on future Big 12 member BYU in a doubleheader on Friday and Saturday. For me, Iowa State is a team that is right on the verge of breaking through, but can’t seem to get out of their own way. They’ve played some of the top teams in the country (Washington, UCLA) close, but turn around and lose to the likes of Sacramento State and Pacific. They will need to find some consistency, but the offense, led by senior catcher Mikayla Ramos, can be lethal. BYU (19-7) is a solid team, but I expect a split this weekend as the Cyclones get to 20 wins before heading to Austin next weekend.
|BYU||Mar 25 (Fri)||5:00 p.m. CT||Provo, UT|
|BYU||Mar 26 (Sat)||2:00 p.m. CT||Provo, UT|
Baylor has won three straight after dropping game two of their doubleheader against McNeese State last weekend but has the toughest start to the conference schedule of any team in the Big 12. Not only do they draw Oklahoma in the first weekend, but they have to turn around and host Oklahoma State next weekend. The good news is, Baylor has a chance to string together wins after those series are over and start thinking about their postseason aspirations. Baylor is good enough to give someone trouble in a regional bracket, but they need to be more consistent to get there. Going a full seven innings with Oklahoma would be a good start this weekend.
|#1 Oklahoma||Mar 25 (Fri)||6:30 p.m. CT||Norman, OK||TV: Bally Sports OK|
|#1 Oklahoma||Mar 26 (Sat)||2:00 p.m. CT||Norman, OK||TV: Bally Sports OK|
|#1 Oklahoma||Mar 27 (Sun)||12:00 p.m. CT||Norman, OK||TV: Bally Sports OK|
Texas Tech is a winner of nine-straight and rides their hot streak into Stillwater, Oklahoma, to take on Kenny Gajewski and the Cowgirls. The Red Raiders have allowed just 14 runs in the last nine games, including six games allowing one or fewer runs. Offense is going to be the key to Texas Tech pulling off an upset this weekend, and that has been something that has eluded them at times this season. Just three hitters eclipse the .300 mark for batting average, and the team average is .263 (155th in the nation). It’s simple for TTU this weekend: get the bats going or it’ll be a long series.
|#10 Oklahoma State||Mar 25 (Fri)||6:00 p.m. CT||Stillwater, OK|
|#10 Oklahoma State||Mar 26 (Sat)||2:00 p.m. CT||Stillwater, OK||TV: ESPN+|
|#10 Oklahoma State||Mar 27 (Sun)||12:00 p.m. CT||Stillwater, OK||TV: ESPN+|
Kansas is the one team in the conference that will enter Big 12 play with a losing record. Plus, losing 11 of 14 ahead of facing a Texas team that is clicking on all cylinders is less than ideal. The Jayhawks will have their work cut out for them with the way that Texas is swinging bat right now, and could be a weekend to forget for KU. They will need to really pick it up to take down the Longhorns this weekend and I just don’t know if they can do that after losing two contests to Tulsa (11-17) last weekend.
|#23 Texas||Mar 25 (Fri)||6:00 p.m. CT||Lawrence, KS|
|#23 Texas||Mar 26 (Sat)||2:00 p.m. CT||Lawrence, KS|
|#23 Texas||Mar 27 (Sun)||12:00 p.m. CT||Lawrence, KS|