Catch up with the action as we unpack the first matchday––and look forward to what’s ahead.
It’s World Series time, baby. After months of seasonal play, Regional play, Super Regional play, and the like, the WCWS has finally arrived––and wouldn’t you know it, it’s already entertaining. This year’s Series has been full of exciting moments, from Texas’ ascendancy to Oklahoma’s explosiveness. And judging by the slate of planned matches, things don’t look to be slowing down any time soon.
Since the Series has gotten off to such a flying start, a lot has happened that could’ve been easy for casual fans to miss. So without further ado, here are some quick thoughts on each match that’s occurred so far––and a bit of speculation on games yet to start.
Texas vs. UCLA – Texas may be a Cinderella team on paper, but they sure don’t look like it at the moment. The Longhorns were utterly dominant in their 2022 World Series debut, defeating UCLA to the tune of 7–2 and bouncing the Bruins to the losers’ playoffs. Highlights include Mary Iakopo’s 50th career home run and Hailey Dolcini’s rock-solid pitching performance.
Oklahoma vs. Northwestern – This match was essential viewing for home run––and Oklahoma––aficionados. Not only did we get a bomb from Wildcat Rachel Lewis to open the scoring, but the Sooners responded with TWO grand slams courtesy of Tiare Jennings and Jana Johns. Of course, the main story of the match will be Oklahoma’s breakout third and fourth innings during which said grand slams occurred. If this game isn’t proof of their explosive offense, then what is?
Oregon State vs. Florida – Oregon State may have been missing program legend Mariah Mazon on Thursday, but the Beavers have a reputation of getting it together when it counts. So it wasn’t unreasonable to predict that they’d pull out a win against the Gators––especially after they went 1–0 up with bases loaded early into the game. But then, the unthinkable. Natalie Lugo hit her stride in the circle, Florida scored two runs off of an Oregon State fielding error, and the Beavers completely lost control of the match. Sometimes, that’s just how it goes in softball. One small mistake can make the tide of a game turn in the blink of an eye.
Arizona vs. Oklahoma State – Karli Petty and Kelly Maxwell ran the show here. Maxwell played a complete game while notching double-digit strikeout numbers. Meanwhile, Petty unleashed a three-run bomb that sealed the win for the Cowgirls––even after having difficulties at bat earlier in the match. These two athletes are one of many reasons why Oklahoma State could go very, very far in the Series.
Now that match recaps are out of the way, it’s time to look forward to the upcoming winners’ and losers’ playoffs:
UCLA vs. Northwestern (June 3) – Both teams will be smarting from their heavy defeats against Texas and Oklahoma, respectively. The Bruins will have more experience to their advantage––not to mention the higher seed. But Northwestern has surprised them before. The Wildcats shouldn’t be counted out of the running in the slightest.
Oregon State vs. Arizona (June 3) – Arguably, there are two Arizonas in D1 of the NCAA. One of them can go on an eight-game conference losing streak at a moment’s notice, and the other can claw its way into the World Series. The Beavers are pretty much the same––except one Oregon State has Mariah Mazon, and the other … doesn’t. This begs the question: which of these teams will show up tonight?
Texas vs. Oklahoma (June 4) – Texas are on a bit of an upset streak right now, and Iakopo and Janae Jefferson can produce greatness on their day. But Oklahoma is … well, Oklahoma. They have what is arguably the best remaining offense in this competition. The Longhorns couldn’t possibly pull it off … could they?
Florida vs. Oklahoma State (June 4) – The most interesting part of this game will be the pitchers at its center. Lugo accomplished an incredible feat against Oregon State, while Maxwell has been pitching lights-out as of late. Assuming that both return to the circle on Saturday, prepare for a lot of clutch strikeouts––and a tight scoreline.
In fact, we might as well prepare for a lot of tight games, given the steepness of the competition. Buckle up, softball fans. It’s gonna be a bumpy ride.
The full slate of upcoming matches in the Women’s College World Series can be found here.