Oklahoma softball: Eight teams stand in OU's way of unprecedented NCAA 4-peat


It all comes down to this: Eight teams are headed to Oklahoma City and the Women's College World Series, but only one -- the Oklahoma softball Sooners -- has been there for eight consecutive seasons and won the national championship five times and seeking a sixth.

Oklahoma has been a national seed for each of the past 16 seasons and is the No. 2 seed this year. The Sooners are making their 17th overall appearance in the WCWS, all since 2000, and 12th appearance in the last 13 seasons the NCAA Softball Championship tournament has been held. No other team in the country has made as many appearances in the WCWS as the Sooners since the 2011 season.

The Sooners (54-6) will play 10th-seeded Duke (52-7), the champions of the Atlantic Coast Conference, in the second game of the WCWS on Thursday afternoon at Devon Park (formerly USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium) in Oklahoma City. That game will follow Game 1 of this year's national championship tournament between No. 14 Alabama and No. 6 UCLA. The winner of those two Thursday afternoon games will play each other on Saturday; the losers will play an elimination game on Friday evening.

The winner of the two Thursday afternoon matchups will play each other on Saturday, while the losers will face each other in a Friday evening elimination game.

The other side of the bracket features No. 1 Texas against No. 8 Stanford and No. 5 Oklahoma State against No. 4 Florida. Because both Texas and Oklahoma State are in the other bracket, the Sooners would not potentially face either team until the championship series.

It won't be an easy road for the Sooners, though. Oklahoma has a winning record all-time against five of the seven other teams, but the two teams the Sooners don't have a winning record against historically -- UCLA and Alabama -- are on OU's side of the bracket. The Sooners are 8-10 all-time against Alabama and 8-13 against the UCLA Bruins, the only team other than Oklahoma that has won three consecutive national titles in softball.

In their last five national championship seasons, however, OU is 3-1 vs. Alabama and 2-1 against UCLA.

The Oklahoma-Duke game is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. CT on Thursday and will be broadcast on ESPN with Kevin Brown and Amanda Scarborough on the call and Alyssa serving as on-the-field reporter.

What fans need to know about Duke

  • The Duke Blue Devils are making their first appearance in the Women's College World Series in program history.
  • The Blue Devils advanced to the WCWS by defeating No. 7 Missouri two games to one in the Columbia (Missouri) Super Regional last weekend.
  • The two hitters at the top of the Duke lineup -- D'Auna Jennings and Claire Davidson -- are both hitting over .400, Jennings has a .402 batting average with 76 hits and 20 RBI; Davidson is hitting .439 with 76 hits, 18 home runs and 67 RBI. Davidson also has hit safely in 11 of her last 12 games.
  • Duke has a pitching staff that rivals Oklahoma's. ACC Pitcher of the Year, Jala Wright is the main starter. Wright is 19-2 on the year with a 1.28 ERA and 187 strikeouts in 153.1 innings. Cassidy Curd has a record of 13-3 with a 1.29 ERA and 159 strikeouts in 119.1 innings. As a full staff, Duke pitchers are holding opponents to a .184 batting average and own a staff ERA of 1.55, third best in NCAA Division 1 softball.
  • In the 2024 NCAA Tournament, Duke has scored a total of eight runs in the first four innings and 35 runs over innings 5 through 10.

What to know about Oklahoma coming into the 2024 WCWS

  • Oklahoma and Duke have played just once historically, and that was earlier this year. The Sooners won the game 3-0 in the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge. It was Duke's first game of the 2024 season and the only time the Blue Devils have been shut out all season.
  • Four Oklahoma hitters in the starting lineup are hitting .400 or better led by freshman Ella Parker at .419 and Rylie Boone at .415. As a team, the Sooners are hitting .366, No. 2 in the country behind Texas (.379)
  • OU's Tiare Jennings has hit 22 home runs, sixth-best in Division I softball and has a team-best 63 RBI.
  • Oklahoma leads the nation in on-base percentage (.473) and ranks third in runs per game (8.05).
  • Oklahoma has hit 110 home runs this season, which ranks No. 3 in the country.
  • The Oklahoma pitching staff, led by Kelly Maxwell, Nicole May and Kierston Deal, has an ERA of 1.85, which ranks sixth-best in the country.
  • OU has won 18 consecutive NCAA postseasons games, a program record. The Sooners have not lost since dropping a 7-3 decision to UCLA in the 2022 WCWS.