The 2023 Women’s College World Series field has been cut down to two teams, as the Oklahoma Sooners and Florida State Seminoles both went 3-0 through the double-elimination portion of the Championship.
Oklahoma’s road to the Championship Series started and ended with Stanford, taking down the Cardinal 2-0 on Thursday, and 4-2 on Monday in a nine-inning thriller. Sandwiched between those contests was a 9-0 victory over Tennessee, which proved to be the dud of the WCWS after being touted as the game of the year by many.
Meanwhile, Florida State started off its WCWS with an 8-0 win over Oklahoma State, followed by a 3-1 victory over Washington on Saturday. Then, the Seminoles punched their ticket to the Championship Series with a 5-1 win over Tennessee on Monday, behind another dominant performance from Kathryn Sandercock.
All season long, Oklahoma and Florida State have looked like two of the best teams in the country and now they stand opposite one another as the final two teams with a shot at a national championship.
Here’s everything you need to know about the Sooners and Seminoles ahead of their national championship series.
CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES (BEST-OF-THREE)
LOCATION: HALL OF FAME STADIUM; OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA
GAME 1: Wednesday, June 7 | 7:00 p.m. CT | ESPN
GAME 2: Thursday, June 8 | 6:30 p.m. CT | ESPN
GAME 3 (IF NECESSARY): Friday, June 9 | 7:00 p.m. CT | ESPN
TALE OF THE TAPE
NO. 1 OKLAHOMA (59-1)
The Oklahoma Sooners enter the championship series of the Women’s College World Series after perhaps the most dominant season in NCAA history. The Sooners have outscored opponents 493 to 58, or by an average margin of 8.22 to 0.97. The Sooners have a school-record 34 shutouts on the year, as well as 28 run-rule victories (47%). OU is chasing history, as it hopes to become the second-ever team in D-I softball history to win three straight national championships and the first-ever team to finish first in batting average (.368), ERA (0.98), and fielding percentage (.988).
NO. 3 FLORIDA STATE (58-9)
Florida State comes into the Championship Series after dominating its way through one side of the bracket. Outscoring opponents 16-2 in OKC, the Noles’ pitching staff has been out of this world behind Kathryn Sandercock, who’s allowed just one earned run and 11 hits over 13.2 IP at the WCWS. The Seminoles have hit their stride over the last two weeks of play, and can dominate games with their small-ball tactics. With a .306 team average, 133 stolen bases, and a .402 on-base percentage, the Noles’ offense can work opponents into jams and force them into mistakes, leaving their top-notch pitching staff (1.59 ERA – 4th nationally) to slam the door.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Jordy Bahl, P, Oklahoma
Ever since Jordy Bahl arrived on campus in 2022, she’s been one of the most dominant arms in all of softball. However, she’s taken it to another level this postseason. Since the NCAA tournament started, Bahl has pitched 28.0 innings, allowing just one earned run on 20 hits, with a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 36-3. In the WCWS, teams have gone 0-14 with nine strikeouts against Bahl with runners in scoring position. That’s elite, even by Oklahoma standards.
Kathryn Sandercock, P, Florida State
Just like Bahl, Kathryn Sandercock has been Florida State’s biggest weapon since she stepped in the circle for the first time. In 2023, she’s gone 28-3 with a career-best 1.05 ERA in 24 starts. In 716 batters faced, Sandercock has allowed just 29 extra-base hits all season, including nine home runs. In the NCAA Tournament, Sandercock has thrown 35.0 innings and allowed just three earned runs on 27 hits. While her 24-6 K-BB ratio might not jump off the page, her 54 groundouts in tournament play sure does.
ONE THING TO WATCH
Offense plays a vital role in all sports, but as they say, “defense wins championships.” In softball, the best form of defense is a dominant pitching staff, and both of these teams possess just that. Oklahoma leads the nation in ERA with a 0.98 average, while Florida State ranks fourth with a 1.59 ERA.
Jordy Bahl will be the ace for Oklahoma but Nicole May provides a legitimate second starter with postseason experience, and both Alex Storako and Kierston Deal have made appearances as well.
When these teams met back in March, Alex Storako made the start and gave up four earned runs before Jordy Bahl came in and shut the Noles offense down for three innings, allowing just one hit, and securing the save. Meanwhile, Sandercock got the start and went 2.0 IP with three hits and one earned run.
A lot has changed since March, but these two pitching staffs have been the driving force behind their teams’ runs to the champ series. The staff that can control the rest of the week will be hoisting a trophy come Thursday (or Friday).