Baylor Bears

NCAA Softball Super Regionals: Five Things to Watch in 2024

Oklahoma's Tiare Jennings (23) celebrates in the first inning of the Norman Regional NCAA tournament game between the Oklahoma Sooners and the Oregon Ducks at Love's Field in Norman, Okla. Saturday, May, 18, 2024.

The 2024 NCAA Softball Tournament has reached the Super Regional round after the Field of 64 was whittled down to just 16 teams last weekend.

Now, the field is set to be cut in half over the next several days as those 16 teams battle it out to determine which eight squads will represent this year’s field in the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City.

As we take in the best-of-three series from across the eight Super Regional locations, there are some major factors that will be at play across the list of contenders.

Here are the top five things you should be watching for in this weekend’s action.


Do Oklahoma’s Seniors Exorcise the Issues at Love’s Field?

Oklahoma’s 2024 senior class will go down as the best group of college softball players that the sport has ever seen, and that stands true even if they don’t win a fourth consecutive title. However, the group that paved the way for Love’s Field to be built hasn’t really had a chance to really break it in yet. In fact, the Sooners started practicing full-time in their new digs just a couple of weeks ago. Now, they’ll play their final series in the state-of-the-art ballpark against Florida State in the Norman Super Regional.

While still incredibly successful, Oklahoma has had a little bit of an issue playing to its standard in the new park this year. Whether it’s nerves, the new feel of the park, or the number of fans that get packed into the seats for every single game, it’s seemed to harm OU more than it’s helped. Patty Gasso’s group has lost four games at home this season, and while that might not sound like a lot, it is by this program’s standards. The last time Oklahoma had lost more than one home game in a season was 2017, and that group went 24-2 at home en route to a national title. Between 2017 and 2023, the Sooners were 139-4 at home. This year? 22-4.

The Sooners’ senior class of Jayda Coleman, Tiare Jennings, Rylie Boone, Nicole May, and Kinzie Hansen have the core of this team’s success over the last four years, and this weekend they’ll face a Florida State team that ranks 145th nationally in ERA. Can OU’s seniors get rolling into that extra gear and leave Love’s Field on a high note?


Can Baylor Pull Off a Goliath Upset in Gainesville?

I’ll be honest. When I dove into the stats and looked for the advantage that Baylor had heading into its matchup against Florida in the Gainesville Super Regional, there wasn’t one to be found. In every statistic that I used to measure these teams, the Gators always came out on top, and in some categories, it wasn’t close. Florida’s offense is on par with Texas and Oklahoma this season, making them capable of scoring double-digit runs in a single inning when they’re hot at the plate.

The main concern I have for Baylor is how they will approach that offense in the circle. The Bears have used RyLee Crandall (3.10 ERA) and Aliyah Binford (3.23 ERA) almost exactly 50/50 this season, with Crandall having 147.0 IP to Binford’s 143.0 IP. So, without digging too deep, it’s safe to assume they’ll be used in this matchup. The bad news is that when facing offenses like OU and Texas, the Bears haven’t fared well. In 30.2 IP, the duo of Crandall and Binford surrendered 62 hits and 48 runs (46 earned), with 21 BBs and 23 Ks. That comes out to a 10.50 ERA.

So, that just means Baylor is going to have to score a lot of runs and win in a shootout, right? Well, the problem with that is the Bears are averaging just 4.21 runs per game (150th nationally), and they face a Top 50 pitching staff in terms of ERA (2.76). I’ll never say it’s impossible because these games are played on a field, not on paper. However, if Baylor were to pull off the upset here, it would be the most shocking result of the Tournament, without a doubt.


Does Arizona Have an Answer for Lexi Kilfoyl?

We’ve seen a lot of Lexi Kilfoyl in the circle this season for Oklahoma State. What we have not seen, though, is teams find success against her. The Cowgirls’ ace enters Super Regional weekend with the nation’s No. 2 ERA (1.08 ERA in 155.0 IP), trailing only Stanford’s NiJaree Canady (0.52 ERA). Canady and Kilfoyl have been comparable in success this season, and Arizona did face the Stanford ace in 2024, so how did that fare?

Canady pitched a total of 12.0 innings over two games against the Wildcats this year, including a complete game to end the series. In Game 1, she went 5.0 IP and allowed three hits, no runs, three BBs, and tallied seven Ks. Stanford won 9-0. In Game 3, Canady went 7.0 IP, allowed four hits, no runs, one BB, and 13 Ks. Stanford won that game, 7-0. In other words, she absolutely shut the 13th-ranked offense in the country down.

So, will Arizona have an answer for Kilfoyl, who will likely be used in a similar vein? They’ll undoubtedly see her in Game 1, and if there’s a chance OSU can close out the series in two games, they might see her come in at some point in the second matchup if the series can be clinched. If the Wildcats can’t make adjustments against Kilfoyl, there’s little chance that they’ll be the ones advancing out of the Stillwater Super Regional.

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