OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma will seek its third straight national softball title and seventh championship overall at the Women’s College World Series.
The Sooners set the NCAA Division I record with their 48th consecutive win in an 8-7 victory over Clemson on Saturday to win the Norman Super Regional. They will play Stanford on Thursday at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City in their World Series opener.
Oklahoma has won four of the last six national titles, with a runner-up finish and a semifinals appearance in the other two seasons.
In the other opening games Thursday: No. 15 seed Utah will face No. 7 Washington in an all-Pac 12 matchup; No. 4 Tennessee will match up with No. 5 Alabama in a contest between Southeastern Conference teams; and No. 3 Florida State will play No. 6 Oklahoma State.
Even though No. 2 overall seed UCLA was eliminated in regional play, the Pac-12 will be well represented at the World Series. Utah, Washington and Stanford all qualified, giving the conference the most teams in the field.
Utah pitcher Mariah Lopez led the Utes to their first World Series appearance since 1994.
She pitched a complete game in a 4-3 opening loss to San Diego State in the super regional, but bounced back and gave up one run in four innings in a 10-1 win Saturday.
She started again in the winner-take-all Game 3 on Sunday. San Diego State loaded the bases against her in the fifth with two outs, but she got a strikeout to end the inning. She gave up one earned run and four hits in five innings to earn the win in a 7-2 victory.
Alabama pitcher Montana Fouts bounced back in a big way after struggling in her first game back from a hyperextended left knee.
Fouts was injured in the Southeastern Conference Tournament and did not play in the regional. She returned, but took the loss in the first game of the Tuscaloosa Super Regional on Friday. She got wins Saturday and Sunday in relief of Jaala Torrence to push the Crimson Tide into the World Series.
Fouts is the most recent pitcher to throw a perfect game at the World Series. She shut out UCLA in 2021 on her 21st birthday.
Oklahoma and Oklahoma State have made the short trip to Oklahoma City a regular occurrence.
Oklahoma, whose campus is about a 30-minute drive from USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium, has qualified for the World Series for the eighth straight season.
Oklahoma State, whose campus is about an hour north of the stadium, has made it four straight years. The Cowgirls have yet to reach the championship series, missing it by one game last year.
World Series rematch
The last time Oklahoma State and Florida State faced off in a World Series game was under less-than-ideal circumstances in 2021.
Florida State won 4-2 in a game that ended at 2:20 a.m. local time after a rain delay pushed the start time back. That game was a key reason the format was changed for the next year and the series now has more flexibility to account for weather, including a maximum of nine days instead of seven.