Big 12 Previews

NCAA Softball Tournament 2024 Preview, Prediction, Schedule: Norman Regional

Oklahoma's Rylie Boone (0) runs to first base after a walk during the college softball game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners and Texas A&M Commerce at Love's Field in Norman, Okla., Wednesday, March 6, 2024.

After the dust settled on Selection Sunday, there were five Big 12 teams in the 2024 NCAA Softball Tournament, with three of them ranked among the top five seeds nationally.

The Oklahoma Sooners won the Big 12 Tournament on Saturday and locked up the No. 2 overall seed with a 5-1 victory over No. 1 Texas.

If the Sooners can survive the first weekend of action, they will have the chance to host the winner of the Tallahassee Regional—hosted by No. 15 Florida State—for the Super Regionals.


Let’s take a look at the teams in the Norman Regional and predict how things should play out after the first weekend of action.

Tale of the Tape

(2) No. 1 Oklahoma (49-6)

RPI: 2 | Record vs. Top 25: 10-5 | Scoring: 8.06 (3rd) | ERA: 1.87 (10th) | Fielding %: .980 (6th)

Oklahoma enters the NCAA Tournament without the No. 1 seed for the first time since 2018 but is still considered by many to be the favorite to hoist a fourth-consecutive National Championship trophy next month. The Sooners are led by a plethora of All-American talents and have one of the most experienced teams in the nation with names like Kinzie Hansen, Tiare Jennings, Jayda Coleman, and Nicole May. The pitching staff–led by Kelly Maxwell–is coming off a strong week at the Big 12 Tournament. The Sooners outscored opponents 28-4 in Oklahoma City last weekend and appear to be hitting their stride after dropping their season-ending series to Oklahoma State.

No. 2 Oregon (28-19)

RPI: 32 | Record vs. Top 25: 6-12 | Scoring: 5.55 (46th) | ERA: 3.15 (99th) | Fielding %: .974 (27th)

Oregon finished tied for third in the Pac-12 standings with a 13-10 record in conference play and was booted from the Pac-12 Championship in the first round against Utah. The Ducks are led by Melyssa Lombardi, who spent 21 seasons under Patty Gasso as an assistant coach and associate head coach in Norman. Oregon ranks top four in the Pac-12 in batting average (.308), OBP (.381), and fielding percentage (.974), but has struggled against good competition this year, going just 6-12 against Top 25 opponents.


No. 3 Boston (52-4-1)

RPI: 34 | Record vs. Top 25: 0-1 | Scoring: 6.12 (18th) | ERA: 1.28 (1st) | Fielding %: .980 (3rd)

I’m not sure I’d be alone in saying this, but Boston represents the biggest threat to Oklahoma in the Norman Regional, not the No. 2 seed, Oregon. While the Terriers don’t play the best competition in the Patriot League, they went a perfect 18-0 in league play and lead the nation in ERA (1.28). Kasey Ricard (1.21 ERA) is the name to know in the circle. The sophomore leads the nation with 14 solo shutouts and ranks third in strikeouts (241). When combining Ricard with Allison Boaz (1.48 ERA), BU has a formidable duo in the pitching staff and a more than capable offense. The biggest question is, do those stats hold up against elite competition? The Terriers have played five games agaisnt Top 50 teams and are 2-3 on the year.

No. 4 Cleveland State (22-24)

RPI: 236 | Record vs. Top 25: 0-0 | Scoring: 3.67 (205th) | ERA: 4.05 (193rd) | Fielding %: .948 (274th)

The Cleveland State Vikings earned an auto-bid in the NCAA Tournament after winning the Horizon League Tournament. Cleveland State is the lowest-ranked RPI teal in the entire field at No. 236 and is the only team in the field with a record below .500. The Vikings unlikely postseason run can be credited to Melissa Holzopfel (1.77 ERA), who was named the Horizon League Softball Tournament MVP after throwing 40 total innings and allowing just five earned runs for the week (0.87 ERA) along with 35 strikeouts. She also hit a home run in the Championship game, clinching the victory for the Vikings.


Schedule – Norman, Oklahoma

Friday, May 17

Game 1: Oregon 8, Boston 0 (F/5)

Game 2: Oklahoma 9, Cleveland State 0 (F/5)

Saturday, May 18

Game 3: Oklahoma 6, Oregon 3

Game 4: Boston 8, Cleveland State 0 (F/5)

Game 5: Oregon 8, Boston 2

Sunday, May 19

Game 6: (2) Oklahoma vs. Oregon | 2:00 p.m. | ESPN+

Game 7 (if necessary): Winner Game 6 vs. Loser Game 6 | TBD

Prediction: Oklahoma Goes 3-0

Oklahoma will get to Sunday without any issues, sending Oregon back into the loser’s bracket on Saturday. There, the Ducks will fall victim to Boston, who gets the better of them in their second go-round. OU will face a 50+ win team on Sunday but proves to be on another level as the Sooners handle Boston and advance to take on the winner of Florida State’s regional.

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