Big 12 Previews

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

Syndication: The Oklahoman

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.

Oklahoma State was eliminated from the Big 12 Tournament in a shocking loss to BYU—the first team out of the NCAA Tournament—but managed to nab the No. 5 overall seed after defeating both Oklahoma and Texas in a three-game series during the regular season. As a reward, the Pokes now have an inside track to the Women’s College World Series.

If the Cowgirls can survive the first weekend of action, they will have the chance to host the winner of the Fayetteville Regional—hosted by No. 12 Arkansas—for the Super Regionals.


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

Tale of the Tape

(5) No. 1 Oklahoma State (44-10)

RPI: 12 | Record vs. Top 25: 9-5 | Scoring: 6.09 (20th) | ERA: 2.05 (14th) | Fielding %: .975 (21st)

There aren’t many teams out there that are built to tackle giants like Oklahoma and Texas, but Kenny Gajewski’s squad is one of them. The Cowgirls have one of the best arms in the nation in Lexi Kilfoyl and an offense that has both the power and speed to cause major issues. Oklahoma State’s five-error performance against BYU was an outlier for their 2024 season, as this group has been nails on the defensive side of the ball. If they clean that up and play like they have for 95% of the season, there’s not a team in their path that can keep them from getting back to Oklahoma City.

No. 2 Kentucky (30-22)

RPI: 28 | Record vs. Top 25: 9-15 | Scoring: 5.10 (66th) | ERA: 3.83 (164th) | Fielding %: .967 (82nd)

Kentucky comes into the tournament after having finished 12th in the SEC standings, but don’t let that fool you. This Wildcats team is battle-tested and has seen one of the nation’s toughest schedules to this point in the year. They aren’t walking into Stillwater scared but looking to advance to the next round. Stephanie Schoonover is the name to watch in the circle, with an 18-9 record, 2.59 ERA, and 169 strikeouts in 159.2 innings.


No. 3 Michigan (41-16)

RPI: 36 | Record vs. Top 25: 2-2 | Scoring: 5.41 (50th) | ERA: 2.74 (46th) | Fielding %: .971 (38th)

The Big Ten Tournament Champions are headed to Stillwater and have played very well recently, going 17-2 since being swept by Northwestern on the road in early April. The Wolverines will lean on Maddie Erickson (.357) at the plate and Lauren Derkowski in the circle (2.16 ERA). Michigan played Oklahoma State in the Clearwater Invitational earlier this season in the Clearwater Invitational, with the Pokes prevailing 15-6. However, to do that, they’ll have to get through a tough Kentucky team.

No. 4 Northern Colorado (27-24)

RPI: 158 | Record vs. Top 25: 0-2 | Scoring: 4.78 (94th) | ERA: 3.93 (180th) | Fielding %: .957 (211th)

Northern Colorado comes to Stillwater as the Big Sky’s representative in the NCAA Tournament, making just its second-ever appearance. Its first-ever appearance came last season, in Dedeann Pendleton-Helm’s first season, giving it back-to-back appearances under her leadership. The Bears will open up tournament play against Oklahoma State and are 0-7 against the Cowgirls all-time.


Schedule – Stillwater, Oklahoma

Friday, May 17

Game 1: Kentucky 4, Michigan 3

Game 2: (5) Oklahoma State 6, Northern Colorado 0

Saturday, May 18

Game 3: (5) Oklahoma State 6, Kentucky 2

Game 4: Michigan 4, Northern Colorado 2

Game 5: Michigan 4, Kentucky 2

Sunday, May 19

Game 6: (5) Oklahoma State vs. Michigan | 2:00 p.m. | ESPN

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

Prediction: Oklahoma State Escapes a Scare, Goes 3-0

Oklahoma State comes into the tournament on a two-game skid, but most recently picked up back-to-back wins over OU in Norman. Now, back in the confines of Cowgirl Stadium, they get back on the winning side of things with a blowout of Northern Colorado. On Saturday, though, the Pokes get a bit of a scare from Kentucky before eventually pulling away to win. Then, in Sunday’s Game 6, Oklahoma State takes the regional and moves on to the Supers, where they’ll face a tough Arkansas squad.

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