Baylor Bears

Big 12 Softball: Three Must-Watch Games of Week 4

Photo Credit: Oklahoma Softball

Three full weekends of softball have come and gone already for the 2023 season, and there are four Big 12 teams that look like tournament teams to this point in the year.

Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are as advertised and currently rank as two of the top three teams in the nation, as they did when the season began. Texas was ranked to begin the year and has looked better than I expected them to, but the real surprise has been Baylor. The Bears, 14-1, have looked like a legitimate challenger for the Big 12 crown, and already have a win against Oklahoma on their resume.

With that many teams playing well in this conference, there have been ranked vs. ranked matchups every weekend, and that continues this week.

 

Here are three games that you absolutely cannot miss this weekend if you are a Big 12 softball fan.

3.) No. 25 Texas A&M (12-4) vs. No. 19 Baylor (14-1)

Date: Sunday, March 5 | Time: 3:00 p.m. CT | Location: Waco, TX | TV: ESPN+

The Baylor Bears have burst onto the scene as one of the top teams in college softball this season, and they’ll get a chance to prove their worth yet again against another ranked opponent this weekend in No. 25 Texas A&M. Baylor will play the Aggies twice this weekend, with the second game being televised on ESPN+.

Three of Texas A&M’s four losses have to come against the top three teams in the nation (OU, UCLA, OSU), with the outlier coming against Nebraska. The Aggies are ranked for the first time in a national poll since the 2019 season and can swing the bat. Texas A&M ranks No. 13 in on-base percentage (.442), No. 18 in slugging percentage (.558), No. 18 ERA (1.54), and No. 23 batting average (.328), and has taken the fifth most walks (67) in the nation.

Meanwhile, Baylor is flying high behind the bat of Shaylon Govan (5 HR, 31 RBI, .512 BA) and dominance in the circle from Dariana Orme (0.88 ERA, 36 K) and RyLee Crandall (0.78 ERA, 37 K). This matchup appears to feature two teams that could make runs in the NCAA Tournament in a couple of months, and the winner of these two games will have another feather in their cap before conference play starts up later this month.

 

2.) No. 23 Missouri (12-4) at No. 2 Oklahoma State (13-1)

Date: Friday, March 3 | Time: 5:00 p.m. CT | Location: Stillwater, OK | TV: ESPN+

The Oklahoma State Cowgirls have looked like one of the most dominant teams in the country to this point as it appears Kenny Gajewski has found a formula for getting top-tier athletes to come and play softball in Stillwater. This weekend, the Cowgirls will host No. 23 Missouri in the Oklahoma State Invitational.

Missouri comes into this weekend with ranked wins over UCF and Northwestern but has losses to Texas, Oregon, Oregon State, and Louisville on the year. Kelly Maxwell is likely to be in the circle, which alone warrants tuning in, but the Pokes’ offense has been equally as impressive to this point in the year. Six players on Oklahoma State’s roster have already topped 10 RBIs this season, and when they are scoring like that they are hard to beat.

The Tigers have some hot bats of their own, with Alex Honnold (4 HR, 20 RBI, .538 BA) and Julia Crenshaw (5 HR, 20 RBI, .354 BA) leading the way. This one could be fun to watch, and, just like Baylor-Texas A&M, will feature two teams from the old Big 12.

 

1.) No. 16 Kentucky (10-3-1) at No. 1 Oklahoma (14-1)

Date: Fri-Sat, March 3-4 | Time: 5:30 p.m. CT, 3:00 p.m. CT | Location: Norman, OK | TV: ESPN+

After spending the first three weeks of the season on the road, the Oklahoma Sooners will return home to Norman to host the OU Tournament. The return home won’t be a cakewalk though, as the Sooners draw a tough Kentucky team that certainly comes into the weekend battle-tested.

Last weekend at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic, Kentucky played three ranked squads; No. 12 Washington (W, 11-3), No. 2 UCLA (L, 6-3), and No. 22 Northwestern (L, 9-3). At the same tournament, the Sooners faced just one ranked team, although it was a 14-0 win over then-No. 1 UCLA.

Oklahoma’s bats are warming up, and Alex Storako (0.34 ERA, 26 K) and Nicole May (0.00 ERA, 35 K) have been dealing. But Kentucky isn’t a team to overlook. The Wildcats have Stephanie Schoonover, who comes into the weekend leading the nation in shutouts (6) and is second nationally in strikeouts (75). Get ready for a good old-fashioned SEC softball battle in this one. Too soon?

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