Big 12 Previews

2023 Women’s College World Series Preview: Oklahoma State vs. Utah

After dropping its opening-round game to Florida State on Thursday night, the Oklahoma State Cowgirls are facing elimination from here on out, unless it can work its way into the Championship series.

Unable to crack the code that is Kathryn Sandercock, the Cowgirls’ offense was held scoreless for the first time since its extra-inning 1-0 loss to Texas back in April.

Now, with Utah on deck, the Cowgirls cannot afford to lose another one and must find a way to win and advance.

Here’s everything you need to know about the Cowgirls and Utes ahead of their WCWS matchup tonight.








Prior to Thursday night’s game, Oklahoma State’s worst loss was an 11-6 contest in just their third game of the season against Maryland. Now, their 8-0 to FSU stands as the worst of the year, and the sting won’t have time to go away fully before they find themselves back on the field again. Winning and advancing out of the loser’s bracket in Oklahoma City is tough, and it takes a short memory. Do the Cowgirls have what it takes?

I’d love to say I have all the confidence in the world that they’ll do what they need to to advance, but the last time we saw this team play the way they did in Thursday, it was losing to Kansas and North Texas. The offense last night looked as bad as it has all season, going 4-22 (.182) at the plate, and they just cannot afford that kind of performance again. There’s no doubt that OSU has the roster to get it done, but my doubt is where their confidence is right now. Shake it off and advance, or crumble and go home early. It’s that simple.


NO. 15 UTAH (42-15)

Utah has lost more than two games in a row just once this season, a three-game sweep at the hands of UCLA. Then, the Utes turned around and eliminated the Bruins to win the Pac-12 Championship and earned the auto-bid in the NCAA Tournament. Against Washington on Friday afternoon, the Utes lost 4-1 and fell into the loser’s bracket but they’ve shown all year that they have a short memory.

On paper, Oklahoma State is the better team in this matchup, but Utah has been an underdog a lot in 2023 and yet, here they are. Mariah Lopez went six innings in today’s loss, but she’s the best arm that Utah’s got and I would expect her to go again tonight if she can. Offensively, Utah ranks fourth nationally with a .332 team average, but was just 3-25 (.120) against Washington. That simply won’t do against Oklahoma State.


Kiley Naomi, SS, Oklahoma State

Coming into the WCWS, Kiley Naomi had caught fire at the plate for OSU. In 17 AB, Naomi racked up eight hits, eight runs, and 11 RBIs to help wake the Oklahoma State offense. Then, against Florida State, she went 1-3 and was left on base twice. When Kiley Naomi’s bat is making contact, the Pokes’ offense seems to hum along at a different pace. In the same breath, when she’s cold, the rest of the lineup seems to follow suit.

Ellessa Bonstrom, 1B, Utah

Ellessa Bonstrom has been perhaps Utah’s biggest offensive weapon this season, earning her a spot on the D1Softball Second-Team All-American list. In tournament play, Bonstrom has collected seven hits, five runs, and four RBIs, but went 0-2 at the plate against Washington. Against Oklahoma State, Bonstrom will need to create some plays at the plate and help get Utah’s offense going.



Will Oklahoma State’s experience and longer rest pay dividends for the Cowgirls, or will Utah be the one to shake off the loss and find a way to extend its season?

These two teams don’t want to be in this spot, but yet, here they are in a win-or-go-home scenario. Oklahoma State has been here before and in each of the last four seasons. Meanwhile, Utah’s roster is experiencing Oklahoma City for the first time and will have just a few hours to get things going again tonight.

Sometimes, it’s tough to shake off a loss when you don’t get to sleep on it, and because of a rain delay on Thursday night, Utah doesn’t have that luxury. Playing a double-header in the bright lights of Hall of Fame Stadium can be exhausting, with emotions and nerves at an all-time high. Whichever team can shake off the loss and play more freely tonight will have the upper hand.

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