Baylor Bears

Big 12 Softball Championship Preview and Prediction

Phillips 66 Big 12 Softball Championship, May 14, 2022

The Phillips 66 Big 12 Softball Championship is set to get underway on Thursday in order to decide who will receive the conference’s at-large bid as the tournament champion.

The Oklahoma Sooners are the runaway favorite to win the tournament, as they’ve been for many seasons, but you don’t have to look back that far to see that this tournament doesn’t always go as planned.

Just last season, Oklahoma fell to Oklahoma State in the Championship game just one week after sweeping the Cowgirls in a three-game series in Norman.

 

Today, we are going to preview the first-round matchups, predict what the matchups will be in the semifinals, and finish up with who will win the tournament.

First Round Previews

No. 4 Baylor (39-15) vs. No. 5 Iowa State (24-29)

Thursday, May 11; 10:00 a.m. CT; Hall of Fame Stadium, Oklahoma City; ESPN+

Baylor comes into the Big 12 tournament after sweeping fifth-ranked Texas last week and did so without the help of Dariana Orme. Orme is one of the top pitchers in a stacked Big 12 field, and it will be vital to Baylor’s postseason hopes that she is available from this point forward. If she can’t go, the Bears will likely lean on RyLee Crandall, who pitched two gems against the Longhorns last weekend.

In the other dugout, Iowa State is one of the hottest teams in the conference right now. As winners of eight out of their last 10 games, the Cyclones are one of the teams that nobody wants to play right now; just ask Baylor. Two weeks ago Iowa State took two of three from the Bears in Ames, severely hurting BU’s chances of hosting regionals next week. Is there revenge in the air for Baylor, or will the Cyclones make it three out of four?

No. 2 Texas (40-12-1) vs. No. 7 Texas Tech (31-21)

Thursday, May 11; 12:30 p.m. CT; Hall of Fame Stadium, Oklahoma City; ESPN+

Texas fell flat on its face against Baylor last weekend and brought up several concerns for me at the worst time possible. Can this Texas team handle the pressure of postseason atmospheres, or will their youth prove too much to overcome? There’s no question that they’re talented enough to make a run reminiscent of last year’s, but will they get it done? It’s got to start against Texas Tech on Thursday if so.

Meanwhile, Texas Tech comes into the tournament after nearly two weeks off and will hope to finish Craig Snider’s first season off on a high note. The Red Raiders’ offense has proven to be explosive at times, but the defense and pitching staff have been their Achilles’ heel. Earlier this year, Tech had the Longhorns on the ropes twice and couldn’t get it done, so another chance at redemption awaits in OKC.

 

No. 3 Oklahoma State (41-13) vs. No. 6 Kansas (24-26)

Thursday, May 11; 3:00 p.m. CT; Hall of Fame Stadium, Oklahoma City; ESPN+

Perhaps no team in the nation has been more disappointing than Oklahoma State over the past few weeks. Not long ago, the Pokes were comfortably ranked second in the nation, but then everything fell apart. The offense started to struggle and then the bats went cold altogether. Now, OSU has lost 10 of its last 12 games, including contests against Iowa State and North Texas.

Kansas, on the other hand, had a chance to sneak into the tournament if it could take care of Iowa State at home. After beating No. 23 Wichita State in the midweek, the Jayhawks dropped two of three to the Cyclones and effectively ended any hopes of making the NCAA Tournament. One of these two teams has to win on Thursday though, so who’s it going to be?

Semifinal Projections

No. 1 Oklahoma (49-1) vs. No. 4 Baylor (39-15)

Friday, May 12; 1:00 p.m. CT; Hall of Fame Stadium, Oklahoma City; ESPN+

Oklahoma, winners of 41-straight, awaits the winner of Baylor/Iowa State and I like the Bears to get it done. Despite Iowa State’s hot streak, I think Baylor is more prepared for this moment. If Dariana Orme is healthy, and I believe she will be, Baylor is probably worthy of the two-seed in this tournament at this point in time.

However, facing the Sooners is an entirely different ball game. OU is on the verge of making school history if they can pick up a semifinal win, making it 42 in a row. That would also put them just five games away from tying the all-time record of 47 consecutive wins, which is held by the 1996-97 Arizona teams.

Baylor has beaten the Sooners once already this season though, and is the only team that can claim that feat. If healthy, they have a good chance at it again, or as good as can be.

No. 2 Texas (40-12-1) vs. No. 3 Oklahoma State (41-13)

Friday, May 12; 1:00 p.m. CT; Hall of Fame Stadium, Oklahoma City; ESPN+

Yes, the final four is very chalky, but these four teams are all headed to the NCAA Tournament. Oklahoma State and Texas and both fighting for a chance at hosting through Super Regionals, and a win in this game would be monumental for both teams.

Oklahoma State needs to turn things around before regional weekend gets here, or it might cost them a chance at making Oklahoma City. In our latest Bracketology, the Cowgirls play host to Wichita State. That’s not a team you want to have confidence issues against.

Meanwhile, Texas was surging before falling asleep at the wheel last week against Baylor. Was that a blip on the radar, or is UT not as strong as it seemed a couple of weeks ago? We’re going to find out a lot about them this weekend, and a projected semifinal against OSU will tell us a bunch.

 

Who Wins The Tournament?

No. 1 Oklahoma over No. 2 Texas

Oh, look, more chalk.

All jokes aside, the Sooners have looked like the best team in the conference all season, while the second-best team as of late, Baylor, stands in their way in the semifinals.

Oklahoma State’s struggles are real and it’s going to take quite a turnaround for them to get things right. At this point in time, I just have more confidence in picking Texas than I do in taking OSU.

If you’d asked me a month ago, I might’ve picked the Cowgirls to repeat as tournament champions, but I can’t after what I’ve seen since their series against Iowa State.

Give me Oklahoma over Texas on Saturday with the Sooners earning the top-seed in the NCAA Tournament with the trio of Texas, Oklahoma State, and Baylor all earning the right to host regional action next week.

The Championship game is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. CT on Saturday, with coverage on ESPN2.

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