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OU Softball: Meet Oklahoma's Opponents at the 2023 Women's College World Series

The Sooners are looking to become the first team in over three decades to win back-to-back-to-back national titles at the 2023 Women's College World Series.

After Kinzie Hansen’s seventh inning heroics on Saturday, top-ranked Oklahoma is returning to its seventh-straight Women’s College World Series.

Looking to defend their back-to-back national titles, the Sooners will see plenty of familiar faces in the 2023 WCWS field.

OU is 7-0 this season against the other seven teams that will join the Sooners in Oklahoma City, and Oklahoma is riding a record 48-game winning streak.

Get to know OU’s opponents at the WCWS:

Stanford Cardinal

SB - 2023 WCWS, NiJaree Canady

Stanford freshman NiJaree Canady leads the country in ERA. 

Head Coach: Jessica Allister

Record: 45-13

Path to OKC: Defeated Duke 2-0 in the Durham Super Regional

Like Oklahoma, Stanford has yet to drop a game in the NCAA Tournament. The Cardinal breezed through regional play, allowing just two runs, before sweeping 8-seeded Duke 3-1 and 7-2 to punch their ticket to the WCWS.

Staff Ace: NiJaree Canady

A freshman from Topeka, KS, NiJaree Canady has been one of the pleasant surprises of the college softball season. The right-hander leads the nation with a 0.48 ERA. Most important, Canady didn’t pitch against the Sooners earlier this year, so Oklahoma has not experienced her firsthand ahead of Thursday’s matchup.

Star Hitter: River Mahler

Stanford doesn’t bring a ton of power to the table. The Cardinal have hit just 24 home runs all season, instead moving base runners to manufacture runs. Freshman infielder River Mahler leads the team with a .367 batting average, also drawing 27 walks in 2023. Aly Kaneshiro paces the Cardinal with 40 RBIs, but the junior catcher is only batting .272 this year.

Tennessee Volunteers

SB - Kiki Milloy, 2023 WCWS

Kiki Milloy helped power Tennessee past Texas to return to the 2023 Women's College World Series. 

Head Coach: Karen Weekly

Record: 49-8

Path to OKC: Defeated Texas 2-0 in the Knoxville Super Regional

The Volunteers have been another steady hand this postseason, rolling Northern Kentucky and Indiana in their regional before strolling past Texas 5-2 and 9-0 this past weekend.

Staff Ace: Ashley Rogers

Following Super Regional action, Ashley Rogers is now second in the country with a 0.75 ERA. The senior right-hander has struck out 173 batters and issued on 41 walks in 131 1/3 innings, but she will have to recover before taking the field at Hall of Fame Stadium. The Tennessee coaching staff stuck with her against the Longhorns, racking up big pitch counts in each of the Volunteers’ Super Regional contests.

Clutch Hitter: Kiki Milloy

Kiki Milloy leads the country with 25 home runs, but she’s more than just a power hitter. Disciplined at the plate, Milloy has drawn 49 walks while also hitting 11 doubles and a triple. Still, former Sooner Zaida Puni has as many RBIs as Milloy, 56, and McKenna Gibson has driven in 59 runs, rounding out a balanced Tennessee offense.

Alabama Crimson Tide

SB - Montana Fouts, 2023 WCWS

Montana Fouts battled through injury to fire her Alabama Crimson Tide back to Oklahoma City.

Head Coach: Patrick Murphy

Record: 45-20

Path to OKC: Defeated Northwestern 2-1 in Tuscaloosa Super Regional

Alabama has already faced elimination twice this postseason. Middle Tennessee won Game 1 of the Regional Final, forcing a second contest that the Crimson Tide survived. Then Northwestern won Game 1 of last weekend’s Super Regional, forcing Alabama to battle back and win two straight games to return to Oklahoma City.

Staff Ace: Montana Fouts

A super senior, Montana Fouts’ career will fittingly end at the 2023 WCWS. She’s been a constant since arriving at Alabama, though she’s had to work hard all season long. Fouts is 25-10, logging 319 strikeouts in 223 innings, and she pitched against Northwestern with a bulky brace on her left leg after exiting the SEC Tournament with an injury.

Clutch Hitter: Ashley Prange

Alabama third baseman Ashley Prange leads the Crimson Tide in both batting average (.324) and home runs (16), driving in 46 runs for Patrick Murphy in 2023. Bailey Dowling is also a key piece of Alabama’s offense, leading the team with 49 RBIs.

Florida State Seminoles

SB - Kathryn Sandercock, 2023 WCWS

Kathryn Sandercock threw a perfect game against South Carolina to help Florida State avoid heartbreak in the Tallahassee Regional for the second straight year. 

Head Coach: Lonni Alameda

Record: 55-9

Path to OKC: Beat Georgia 2-0 in Tallahassee Super Regional

The Seminoles needed the second game to eliminate South Carolina in regional action, but rallied with two strong performances against Georgia to return to Oklahoma City.

Staff Ace: Kathryn Sandercock

Kathryn Sandercock has already had a huge moment this postseason, pitching a perfect game against South Carolina in the if-necessary game of the Tallahassee Regional. She’s no stranger to the big stage, as Sandercock has been a fixture over Florida State’s recent run of postseason success. This year, Sandercock is seventh in the country with a 1.10 ERA, and she has help on staff as her teammate Makenna Reid is fourth with a 0.93 ERA.

Clutch Hitter: Kaley Mudge

Florida State is a balanced offense, and Kaley Mudge is one of the key pieces to a dangerous lineup. She’s second on the team in batting average (.354) and RBIs (39), but Mudge is constantly on the bases. Jahni Kerr is just above Mudge with a .362 batting average, driving in 38 runs, and Katie Dack and Michaela Edenfield lead the Seminoles with 11 home runs each. One of Dack’s blasts will have put the Sooners on notice, as it was a three-run shot in Norman on March 14 that put Florida State up on Oklahoma 4-3 in the top of the fourth inning.

Oklahoma State Cowgirls

SB - 2023 WCWS, Kelly Maxwell

Kelly Maxwell's teammates rushed to her as she helped Oklahoma State punch its ticket to a fourth consecutive appearance at the Women's College World Series.

Head Coach: Kenny Gajewski

Record: 46-14

Path to OKC: Defeated Oregon 2-0 in Stillwater Super Regional

The Cowgirls are unbeaten in the NCAA Tournament, as clutch hitting helped power OSU past Nebraska in the Stillwater Regional. Oklahoma State carried that momentum through to this past weekend, where the Cowgirls blasted past Oregon in style.

Staff Ace: Kelly Maxwell

Though she’s not 2022’s Kelly Maxwell, Oklahoma State’s ace has still been steady at the top of the Cowgirl rotation. She enters Oklahoma City with a 1.77 ERA, which ranks 41st nationally, throwing 223 strikeouts but allowing 69 walks in 138 1/3 innings pitched. The emergence of Lexi Kilfoyl and Kyra Aycock to round out the staff have helped Maxwell, who will need to return to her 2022 form to push the Cowgirls through the WCWS field.

Clutch Hitter: Rachel Becker

Rachel Becker has made the most of her lone season in Stillwater. The Cowgirl second baseman is hitting an outstanding .449 with 22 doubles, also drawing 45 walks to constantly find herself on base. Shortstop Kiley Namoi then brings the power, as she leads OSU with 13 long balls so far this year.

Washington Huskies

SB - Baylee Klingler

Washington star Baylee Klingler has led the Huskies to another trip to Oklahoma City.

Head Coach: Heather Tarr

Record: 43-13

Path to OKC: Defeated Louisiana 2-0 in Seattle Super Regional

The Huskies were upset by McNeese in Game 1 of the Seattle Regional Final, and then needed seven runs in the seventh inning to escape elimination. Washington was much more steady this past weekend, sweeping Louisiana.

Staff Ace: Ruby Meylan

Ruby Meylan has been handed the biggest share of innings this year for Washington, posting a 2.19 ERA in 169 1/3 innings of work. Meylan has 197 strikeouts to 47 walks allowed, holding opposing teams to a .214 batting average and 11 home runs.

Clutch Hitter: Baylee Klingler

Baylee Klingler has made the most of her final season at Washington. She leads the Huskies in batting average (.388), home runs (12), RBIs (47), slugging percentage (.680), walks (33) and on-base percentage (.448). Klinger doesn’t strikeout, as she’s gotten fanned only five times this year, consistently putting the ball in play to try and advance runners.

Utah Utes

SB - 2023 WCWS, Mariah Lopez

Pitcher Mariah Lopez fired Utah back to the WCWS, overpowering San Diego State in the Salt Lake City Super Regional. 

Head Coach: Amy Hogue

Record: 42-14

Path to OKC: Beat San Diego State 2-1 in Salt Lake City Super Regional

After winning the Pac 12 Tournament, Utah rolled through regionals but dropped the first game to San Diego State. The Utes responded emphatically, beating the Aztecs 10-1 and 7-2 to return to Oklahoma City with associate head coach D.J. Gasso and pitching coach Paige Parker playing huge roles in Utah’s success.

Staff Ace: Mariah Lopez

When Utah needed wins the most last weekend, Mariah Lopez wanted the ball. The junior left-hander has been the core of the Ute rotation all year, posting a 2.15 ERA with 201 strikeouts in 191 2/3 innings. Lopez has gone the distance in a game 15 times this year, holding opponents to a .217 batting average.

Clutch Hitter: Ellessa Bonstrom

Though Ellessa Bonstrom ranks seventh on the team with a .337 batting average, the super senior has the power to flip games in Utah’s favor. She’s tied for the team lead with 11 home runs, and paces the Utes with 54 RBIs, while also taking 26 walks. Julia Jimenez is right behind Bonstrom’s RBI count, adding 51, and Aliya Belarde paces the team with a .400 batting average and has drawn 16 walks.