Big 12 Softball Power Rankings: Sooners, Cowgirls Separating from Pack
There is just one more weekend of tournaments before conference play begins in Big 12 softball, and the hierarchy has become pretty clear. As we expected, it appears to be Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and then everybody else.
Of course, there are some other tiers in the Big 12 between the third-best team in the conference and the last-place team, but as far as who is going to win the conference title, it appears to be all Sooners and Cowgirls.
With Baylor and Texas both having up and down weeks, its hard to tell if they are ready to truly challenge two of the nation’s best teams at the top of the Big 12.
Here’s a look at the Heartland College Sports’ Big 12 Softball Power Rankings after another weekend of tournaments that had some pretty surprising results.
1. OKLAHOMA (20-1); LAST WEEK: 1
The Oklahoma Sooners went to Starkville and took care of business and did it in dominant fashion yet again, outscoring opponents 29-3 over three games. Oklahoma’s team batting average (.392) leads the country, while its ERA (0.96) is good for third nationally. The Sooners are also pacing the nation in scoring after this weekend, with 191 runs on the year, or 9.1 runs per game. Patty Gasso’s squad seems to have rounded into shape and looks like the juggernaut we’ve grown used to seeing year in and year out.
2. OKLAHOMA STATE (20-2); LAST WEEK: 2
While Oklahoma State is second in our Power Rankings, it will also likely be ranked second nationally as well, after taking the series against No. 6 Florida State this weekend. While Kelly Maxwell has been extremely impressive again this season, the Cowgirls’ offense has been the biggest difference in Stillwater this season. OSU ranks in the top five nationally in scoring, with 172 runs, or nearly eight runs per game. Oklahoma State is balanced in the circle and has added power at the plate to help round them out as one of the nation’s best squads right now.
3. TEXAS (21-4-1); LAST WEEK: 3
The good news? Texas split the series with Alabama and swept Wisconsin in the Bevo Classic. The bad news? They dropped two games in extra innings this weekend, including the capper against Texas State. This weekend was a good litmus test for the Longhorns, and it showed us a little more of what we already knew about this squad. Texas is good enough to hang with the best teams in the country, but it is susceptible to mistakes and costly errors at times. As one of the best offensive teams in the nation, Texas will win its fair share of games with overwhelming run support, but against some of the nation’s top arms, it might get exposed.
4. BAYLOR (18-4); LAST WEEK: 4
C’mon Baylor. I was really starting to see you guys as a potential WCWS dark horse after a blazing hot start to the year, but now I’m having reservations. A 5-2 win over Cal State Fullerton was a nice feather in the Bears’ collective cap, but back-to-back losses to Boston and Long Beach State brought all the postseason aspirations to a halt. Games against Columbia and Loyola Marymount were canceled, taking any chance of quickly putting the losses behind them. The Bears are still one of the conference’s top teams, but they seem to be cooling a bit after losing three of their last seven.
5. TEXAS TECH (20-7); LAST WEEK: 5
Texas Tech deserves a round of applause after going a perfect 5-0 this weekend at the Texas Tech Invitational. The Red Raiders put together a strong showing against manageable opponents, outclassing the likes of Buffalo, Manhattan, and New Mexico to the tune of 57-12 over five games. With that, I’m ready to put this team in a tier of its own, significantly ahead of the bottom two teams in the Big 12 and just behind Baylor for the four-spot. A double-header with Texas State on Tuesday will be interesting, and could give us some more information as the Bobcats are coming off of wins over Alabama and Texas this past weekend.
6. IOWA STATE (11-13); LAST WEEK: 7
For the first time this season, the Cyclones are out of the Big 12 softball basement. After a 4-1 weekend at the Rainbow Wahine Classic in Hawaii, Iowa State is showing signs of life. While their opponents weren’t as good as the teams ahead of them, Iowa State was able to take care of business and get back within striking distance of .500. Now, the Cyclones will take on future Big 12 opponent BYU in a two-game series in Ames. Last season, the Cougars dominated Iowa State and come into this week with an 11-6 overall record.
7. KANSAS (13-11); LAST WEEK: 6
Kansas fell, and fell hard this week while hosting the Jayhawk Invitational in Lawrence. After getting run-ruled by Stanford (9-0, 5 inn.) the Jayhawks had the chance to get back on track. Instead, Central Arkansas handed KU their worst loss of the season, a 13-0 run rule in five innings. Then, after a day to think about what happened, Kansas lost the first of two games to South Dakota State before rallying to win their final game of the weekend. It was a tough week for Kansas, and that sees them crash to the bottom of our power rankings here.