Three Thoughts on Texas’ 1-0 Win Over Stanford in the WCWS Semifinals

Texas pitcher Teagan Kavan (17) celebrates after an inning during a Women's College World Series semifinal softball game between the Stanford Cardinal and the Texas Longhorns at Devon Park in Oklahoma City, Monday, June 3, 2024. Texas won 1-0.

One unearned run ended up being the difference for Texas on Monday night as the Longhorns slipped past NiJaree Canady and Stanford in a 1-0 ballgame to punch their ticket to the WCWS Finals.

Texas (55-8) will now get a day of rest and await the winner of Oklahoma vs. Florida, who will play in an if-necessary elimination game on Tuesday afternoon.

The Longhorns have been as dominant as anyone could’ve expected to this point in the tournament, and now they’re one step closer to being crowned national champions for the first time in program history.

Here are three thoughts on their win and what it means going forward.


Canady Dazzles, Kavan Dominates

In perhaps the best pitcher’s duel that we’ve seen in Oklahoma City this year, we saw NiJaree Canady and Teagan Kavan, two of the best young pitchers in the country, go toe-to-toe for a full seven innings.

Canady, who was named the 2024 USA Softball Player of the Year, continued to show that she might just be the best pitcher that college softball has seen in some time. With her team’s season on the line and facing the best offense in the nation, Canady gave her team every chance to win. On the night, Canady held Texas to just five hits with no walks, no earned runs, and seven strikeouts. An unearned run in the top of the seventh—due to a mishandled rundown between third and home plate—was the only score that Texas managed against the unanimous All-American.

The only problem is that Texas freshman Teagan Kavan was even better tonight, and was able to best Canady head-to-head for the second time in a matter of days.

While the Stanford offense isn’t nearly the juggernaut that Texas’s is, Kavan was downright dominant in her two showings against the Cardinal. On Monday night, Kavan went 7.0 IP with just one hit, one walk, and seven strikeouts. That means Stanford managed just two hits and no runs in 13.0 innings against Kavan in less than a week. While Canady’s performance was captivating, considering who her opponent was, the reality is that Kavan was unstoppable against Stanford.


Texas Has Played Lights Out in OKC

Texas has been the most dominant team in Oklahoma City in 2024, and it hasn’t been particularly close to this point in the tournament. The Longhorns have outscored opponents 15-0 in three games, meaning they haven’t allowed a single run since starting their run last Thursday.

After nearly falling to Texas A&M in the Super Regionals eight days ago, it appeared that the No. 1 seed in the nation might be hobbling into a stacked field of contenders ready to knock them out of the race. That has been the furthest thing from a reality, however, as Texas has been the one knocking teams out left and right.

With a potent offense, a stingy pitching staff, and a defense playing confident behind them, there’s no reason to believe Texas isn’t the favorite to win the national title at this point. Now, after being the only team to go 3-0 through the first five days of the WCWS, the Longhorns can sit back and watch things unfold while they prepare for a championship series on Wednesday.

Are the Longhorns a Runaway Freight Train?

We’ve seen teams like this before in the Women’s College World Series. Serious home run power. Incredible discipline at the plate and big-time problems from one to nine. Stingy pitching staffs that seem deeper than necessary at times. Clean and wholistic defense that seems to be on top of everything at a moment’s notice.

The difference is we’re used to that being the team on the other side of the Red River. However, it appears that the tables have turned a bit in 2024, as Texas is now the big bad monster on the block, and Oklahoma heads into Tuesday with its postseason hopes on life support. After their worst loss since 2022, the Sooners are staggered, and Texas is licking its chops at the thought of facing Keagan Rothrock and the Gators again.


It begs the question: Is Texas destined to win the 2024 WCWS title? Right now, as we reflect on what transpired on Monday, it seems like the only realistic outcome at the end of the week.

If Florida comes out of the if-necessary game a victor, it likely will have used its best arm in three straight games. Oh, and by the way, that arm belongs to Rothrock, who made it just 14 pitches before being pulled against Texas on Saturday.

If it’s Oklahoma who comes out of the elimination game, they’ll be playing straight into the Championship Series without a day of rest, while Texas gets to sit back and relax. While the Sooners and Longhorns are fairly evenly matched, attrition would seem to favor Texas in a three-game series. Plus, can we trust the OU pitching staff behind Kelly Maxwell after what happened today?

It appears Texas is headed to its first-ever national championship in softball, and just as it waves goodbye to the Big 12 and hello to the SEC.

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