BYU Cougars

Big 12 Softball: The Penultimate Weekend of 2024 Regular Season

Texas utility Reese Atwood (14) hits a double during the Big 12 softball tournament game between the Texas Longhorns and the Kansas Blue Jays at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, on Friday, May 12, 2023.
UCF Softball

There are just two weekends of the regular season remaining for the 2024 softball season. After that, it will be time for the Big 12 Tournament and, ultimately, the NCAA Tournament.

Three of the nation’s top four teams reside in the Big 12, with No. 1 Texas, No. 2 Oklahoma, and No. 4 Oklahoma State looking like the cream of the crop through the month of April.

But as the calendar flips to May, the intensity and heat start to rise as teams hope to make the field of 64. Many teams will be locked out of the tournament this weekend, and a few of them could be in the Big 12.

Let’s take a look at the biggest storylines for this week.

 

Kansas Skids into Stillwater

After one of the best starts to conference play in recent memory, Kansas (27-18-1) has cooled off significantly, heading into the final stretch of the regular season. The Jayhawks are still in sole possession of fourth place in the Big 12 standings, but at 11-10, they don’t have much room left for error. KU has now lost six of their last eight games, including a 4-1 loss to Kansas City on Wednesday. Unfortunately for them, the No. 4 team in the country, Oklahoma State (39-8), awaits them in Stillwater and will be looking to keep their Big 12 championship hopes alive with OU on deck. If Kansas can win a game in this series, it would go a long way in helping them secure a spot in the postseason tournament (more on that in a bit). Additionally, the Jayhawks need every win they can get to try and keep one step ahead of UCF, who’s just one game back from taking the four-seed.

 

OU’s First Road Trip Since Austin

Patty Gasso and the Oklahoma Sooners will head to Orlando (Fla.) for a three-game series with UCF this weekend, and it’s a big one. The Knights are coming off a sweep at the hands of Baylor and would love nothing more than to upset the Sooners and prove they belong in the tournament despite a tough start to the year. This is also the first series that Oklahoma will spend away from home since they lost a series in Austin (Tex.) a few weekends ago. Now, OU isn’t likely to face opposition in the stands like they found against UT at any point from here on, but just being on the road could be a test for this team’s mettle after being punched in the mouth. Can the Sooners be dominant as we’ve seen in the past and set up a humongous series agaisnt Oklahoma State next weekend? It’ll be worth tuning in to find out.

 

Battle of the 8-13 Squads

The Big 12 has been incredibly difficult this season, and the might not be two programs who know that better than Baylor and BYU. The Bears (25-19) and Cougars (26-19) bring nearly identical records into their series this weekend and are deadlocked in a tie for sixth place in the conference standings right now. Coming off major sweeps last weekend, both teams are hoping to take sole possession of sixth and potentially jump Kansas and/or UCF in the process. Baylor still checks in at No. 23 in the softball RPI despite their record, but BYU is much further down the list at No. 52. This week is a huge opportunity for the Cougars and could serve as a costly trap for the Bears if they go to Provo (Ut.) and drop the series.

Big 12 Teams on the RPI Bubble

With the NCAA Softball Tournament right around the corner, it’s safe to start looking around the rest of the country and seeing where the Big 12 softball teams stand in the RPI hierarchy as April comes to a close. With 64 teams destined to make the tournament, and 32 of them coming via at-large bids, there’s a good chance that teams within the top 40 of RPI are all but guaranteed a spot. Teams outside the top 50 are in the hunt but will have a harder time, and teams outside the top 60 are probably out of luck thanks to auto-bids for conference champions. So, how does the Big 12 fare as things stand?

Here’s a look at their RPI rankings as of April 25, 2024:

1. Texas
2. Oklahoma
13. Oklahoma State
23. Baylor
34. Texas Tech
36. UCF
42. Kansas
52. BYU
————–
85. Houston
87. Iowa State

The top eight teams are still in the hunt to make the tournament, with six teams appearing to be likely entries at this point. Kansas and BYU are on the bubble and could see their odds increase significantly with wins over the weekend. As for Houston and Iowa State, the only chance for a postseason berth is to win the Big 12 Tournament, and that’ll be much easier said than done.

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