What are OU softball's best- and worst-case scenarios for 2024 NCAA Tournament?

NORMAN — It’s OU softball’s favorite time of the year.

The Sooners, the No. 2 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, open their postseason run against Cleveland State in the Norman Regional at 7 p.m. Friday at Love’s Field.

Every postseason presents plenty of challenges, but for the past three seasons, the Sooners have mostly rolled through the postseason, going a combined 31-3 with none of the losses coming before the Women’s College World Series.

This season, OU is once again among the favorites to win the WCWS title, but with six losses, the Sooners have shown some vulnerability as well.

Here’s a look at some of the best- and worst-case scenarios for the Sooners in this postseason:

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Best-case scenario for regionals

The Sooners maintain their recent momentum and roll through the regional with a 3-0 record. Kelly Maxwell remains stellar, Karlie Keeney and Kierston Deal keep shining in the circle and the offense keeps rolling right along after scoring 28 runs in the Big 12 Tournament.

Worst-case scenario for regionals

The Sooners blow past Cleveland State in their opener — it’s hard to see the Vikings hanging with OU even on an off day, but then things turn south yet again. The Sooners’ bats go cold against Oregon on Saturday, then their pitching shows cracks against a sneakily dangerous Boston team in an elimination game and OU’s season is ended in stunning fashion during the first weekend of regionals. It isn’t likely, but with four of OU’s six losses coming at Love’s Field this season, the possibility exists.

Best-case scenario for super regionals

OU’s Big 12 counterpart, UCF, catches lightning in a bottle in the Tallahassee Regional and is able to advance over host Florida State — the Sooners’ opponent in two of the past three WCWS Championship Series — and Auburn. The Sooners outscored the Knights 23-8 during a three-game sweep in Orlando and do it again in Norman, beating the Knights in supers for the second time in recent seasons and easily moving on to their home away from home in Oklahoma City.

Worst-case scenario for super regionals

The Sooners scrape past the regional to advance to the second weekend but Florida State easily rides through its regional. OU alum Lonni Alameda, a Sooner star back in the days of Reaves Park, brings the Seminoles to town and ends OU’s first season in Love’s Field in stunning fashion.

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Best-case scenario for WCWS

Tiare Jennings solidifies her place among WCWS greats with a transcendent run through her final go-round with the Sooners, earning Most Outstanding Player honors and passing former teammate Jocelyn Alo for many WCWS career records. Kelly Maxwell is dominant for the Sooners as they roll to a fourth consecutive title and solidify the seniors’ place as the greatest class in college softball history.

Worst-case scenario for WCWS

Not only do the Sooners struggle in Oklahoma City, as their pitching deficiencies are highlighted and the bats once again go cold in clutch situations, but Texas and Oklahoma State both roll through the field, with the Longhorns ultimately taking home their first WCWS title and building momentum for the move — along with the Sooners — into the SEC next season.

This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: OU softball's best- and worst-case scenarios for 2024 NCAA Tournament