BYU Cougars

Big 12 Softball: Kansas Hosts No. 1 Texas, UCF Looking to Keep Streak Alive on the Road

UCF softball pitcher Sarah Willis
UCF Softball

There are just three weekends left in the 2024 regular season for Big 12 softball and the conference race is as tight as it has been in years.

No. 2 Oklahoma (39-4, 15-3) holds the slightest of edges over No. 1 Texas (35-6, 14-4) in the conference race but has no margin for error after losing their series in Austin two weekends ago.

Meanwhile, No. 6 Oklahoma State (36-8, 13-5) fell last week to Iowa State in Ames and is two games back from the lead, while Kansas (27-14, 11-7) and UCF (26-15, 10-8) are also within striking distance.

There are some huge matchups this weekend that will play a major role in how the Big 12 Tournament is seeded, so let’s dive right in.

 

Kansas Hosts No. 1 Texas

For the second time this season, Kansas will have the pleasure of hosting the No. 1 team in the nation. In March, it was the Oklahoma Sooners, but now Mike White’s Texas Longhorns are atop the softball world and heading into Lawrence. Kansas is 4-2 in Big 12 play since being swept by the Sooners, while Texas hasn’t lost a game since getting the best of OU for the first time since the Big 12 switched to a three-game series format. If KU is able to make this weekend interesting and steal a game against the Longhorns, it could be their ticket to making the NCAA Tournament. As things stand now, KU ranks as the No. 36 team in RPI, while Texas is at No. 1. A win of that magnitude could send Kansas high enough that it’s impossible to keep them out. Meanwhile, a sweep of Kansas continues to put pressure on Oklahoma, as they’ll have to be perfect or hope Texas drops a game or two to keep their lead in the Big 12 race.

 

What’s Going on With Oklahoma?

Speaking of the Sooners, what’s been going on lately? OU is *checks notes* 3-3 in Big 12 play over the last two weekends and scored a total of six runs in their three losses. That’s almost inexcusable with how incredible Oklahoma has been offensively over the last several years. Still, it does appear that this team is struggling to find their confidence at the plate since Texas beat them in Austin. It’s hard to criticize a team that leads the country in offense, but there have been key stretches where the bats have gone cold, and it’s cost Patty Gasso’s team a few games. This week, the Sooners play host to Houston, who possesses a fringe top-10 scoring offense of its own. Can OU’s pitching staff dominate the zone and let their offense find its way again?

 

Can Oklahoma State Get Back on Track?

Oklahoma State went up to Ames last weekend and lost two of three to the Cyclones, falling to 13-5 in Big 12 play. Then, in a midweek matchup against Wichita State, the Cowgirls fell into a 5-1 hole before digging themselves out to escape with a 6-5 win. This weekend, Lexi Kilfoyl and the Pokes will play host to a dangerous Texas Tech team that is trying to catch up to the top half of the league. The Red Raiders offense has been their biggest weapon under Craig Snider, and they’re more than capable of shocking Stillwater if the Cowgirls aren’t locked in. If they can get back on track here and put together a winning streak, it could set up for a Bedlam at the end of the year with all kinds of Big 12 Title implications.

Can UCF Deliver the Knockout Blow to Baylor?

There’s not a team in the conference playing more confidently right now than UCF. The Knights haven’t lost in the month of April and carry a 10-game winning streak into their matchup with Baylor this weekend. At the beginning of the year, this trip to Waco was viewed in the same light that UCF’s first Big 12 road trip to Stillwater was. Now, Baylor sits at 22-18, 5-13 in Big 12 play, and has lost four straight games heading into the weekend, including a 3-4 loss to UT Arlington on Tuesday. With the Bears staggered, can UCF walk into Waco and deliver a knockout blow to Baylor’s chances of making the NCAA Tournament? While they’re still getting respect in the RPI, Baylor has looked nothing like a postseason team since conference play began. Meanwhile, a sweep would vault UCF to being on the doorstep of 30 wins and being a virtual lock for the tournament.

Best of the Rest

Iowa State heads to Provo to take on BYU, starting with tonight’s game on Big 12 Now on ESPN+. The Cyclones and Cougars each have five conference wins to this point and rank in the bottom half of the league.

Here are the series from across the nation that you need to make sure and keep tabs on with the postseason quickly approaching.

  • No. 7 LSU (34-8) at No. 4 Tennessee (32-7)
  • No. 13 Missouri (34-11) at No. 9 Georgia (34-10)
  • No. 8 Washington (28-7) at No. 24 California (30-12)
  • South Carolina (29-15) at No. 10 Florida (35-9)
  • No. 15 Alabama (30-10) at No. 14 Arkansas (30-11)
  • No. 11 UCLA (24-9) at No. 5 Stanford (36-7)

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