Just eight teams remain as the 2023 Women’s College World Series gets underway in Oklahoma City on Thursday.
As we head into the best part of the year, here’s how we view each of the teams, stacked up against one another in our WCWS Power Rankings.
1. Oklahoma Sooners
The Sooners are the unquestioned favorite heading into the WCWS after winning each of their last 48 games. Oklahoma has a chance to break all kinds of records this week if they can go the distance to finish an unprecented season. OU is four-deep in the circle and led by All-American Jordy Bahl, while also having six All-Americans in their lineup that can go yard from 1 to 9. The Sooners are deep, battle-tested, and the best team in the tournament, bar none.
2. Tennessee Lady Volunteers
Perhaps no team in the country has had a more impressive tournament than Tennessee, as the Lady Vols have yet to have a team within three runs of them thus far. Through super regionals, Tennessee has outscored its opponents 42-6, and has looked every bit that dominant from the get-go. With Kiki Milloy and Ashley Rogers leading the way, Tennessee looks like a team that could give Oklahoma a run for its money heading into the WCWS.
3. Oklahoma State Cowgirls
I don’t know where this Oklahoma State team went for about a month, but now that they’re back, I love watching them play. OSU’s dominance in the circle has returned, as has its offense, which outscored a red-hot Oregon team 17-1 last weekend in Stillwater. Kelly Maxwell looked strong in Friday’s game last week, and Lexi Kilfoyl has presented a strong argument as the Cowgirls’ best arm over the last several weeks. That duo, combined with an opportunistic offense lead by Rachel Becker and Kiley Naomi, could lead this team far into the double-elimination format next week.
4. Florida State Seminoles
Kathryn Sandercock alone makes this Florida State team dangerous, but Makenna Reid makes them scary. The Noles have perhaps the best one-two punch in the circle right now, and their offense has the propensity to get hot when it needs to. With Oklahoma State back to playing good softball, I knocked Florida State down a rung on my ladder, but this team is still a part of that tier just below Oklahoma that could make the Sooners sweat given the chance.
5. Stanford Cardinal
Stanford hasn’t really met its match to this point in the tournament, outscoring opponents 30-5 thus far. NiJaree Canady (0.48 ERA) leads the nation in ERA this year and has been wonderful through the tournament thus far. In 17.1 IP, she’s allowed just seven hits and one earned run with 25 strikeouts. She didn’t face Oklahoma earlier this season, but I would be shocked if the Cardinal went with anyone else on Thursday afternoon.
6. Washington Huskies
The Washington Huskies are no stranger to Oklahoma City, and this year’s squad has certainly done it’s part to get back to the WCWS. After an amazing comeback against McNeese in the Seattle Regional, Washington seemed to recenter agaisnt Louisiana, with 8-0 and 2-0 victories. The pitching staff has been a problem in 2023, with a 3.81 team ERA, but Ruby Meylan has been good down the stretch. Offensively, Baylee Klinger is the name to know for UW, but SilentRain Espinoza has come on strong as well.
7. Utah Utes
In Salt Lake City, it’s all about the offense. Utah ranks fourth nationally and second among all WCWS teams with a .330 batting average, and third among all WCWS teams in scoring with 6.24 runs per game. Aliyah Belarde leads the way with a .401 batting average, while the trio of Julia Jimenez (1.027), Ellessa Bonstrom (1.097), and Shelbi Ortiz (1.058) are all over 1.000 in OPS. The Utes want to get into a scoring contest with you, and more often than not, they win that battle.
8. Alabama Crimsom Tide
Montana Fouts. That’s it. That’s the reason why Alabama is here.
All jokes aside, Montana Fouts has been the biggest reason for the Tide’s success in 2023. Her 317 strikeouts lead the nation, and is 95 more than the next highest pitcher remaining in this tournament (Kelly Maxwell, 222 Ks). With Fouts’ health in question of late, Jaala Torrence has been fantastic. However, this team will go where Fouts takes them. The offense has been tough to come by, with a .275 batting average, which ranks 109th nationally and dead last among WCWS teams.