Stillwater, Oklahoma regional softball preview — how BYU compares to its opponents

Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo
Libby Sugg catches a pitch behind the plate. Sugg posted a .312 batting average while having 25 RBIs during the 2019 season. (Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

BYU softball is set to begin NCAA regionals on Thursday, May 16, against No. 13 Oklahoma State. BYU will also face the No. 20 Razorbacks of Arkansas and the Tulsa Hurricane.

No. 13 Oklahoma State went 39-14 on the season and 13-5 in conference play. Of their 14 losses, seven came against ranked opponents including three losses to No. 1 Oklahoma. The most alarming stat the Cowgirls boasted was a 15-3 record at home, which is an important factor considering this regional will be played on their home field.

Oklahoma State has six players with a batting average over .300 with at least 100 plate appearances. Senior Samantha Show and sophomore Michaela Richbourg led the team in home runs with 17 and 13, respectively. Show also led the team with 50 RBIs while five of her teammates contributed with at least 30 RBIs of their own.

The Cowgirls allowed more than five runs only 11 times during the season. Show, the Cowgirls most utilized pitcher, held batters to a .227 batting average while having an ERA of 2.47. Of her 24 starts, Show pitched a complete game 16 times. None of the Oklahoma State pitchers have allowed their opponents to bat with an average over .287. In addition, Cowgirls base runners have only been picked off four times on 55 stolen base attempts.

No. 20 Arkansas went 38-18 on the season with a 12-12 conference record. Though a 12-12 conference record may not seem like anything special, Arkansas plays in the SEC, a conference with 10 of its 13 teams ranked in the top 25. One of this Razorbacks squad’s only weak points is their road record, as they have gone just 6-10 on the road.

The Razorbacks have five batters that own a batting average of .300 or higher, with three of those batters reaching double digits in home runs and three players that have 30 or more RBIs during the regular season.

Though Arkansas doesn’t have the same firepower Oklahoma State has shown at the plate, they do have two elite pitchers that shared the workload and carried the team through the season. Junior Autumn Storms has an impressive 1.60 ERA, having held batters to just a .228 batting average. Her companion on the mound, sophomore Mary Haff, has an ERA of 1.88, holding opposing hitters to a batting average of just .190.

Tulsa finished the regular season with a 38-18 record while going 16-5 in their conference. The Hurricane won two games during the season against opponents that were ranked at the time of their matchup. Both of these wins, ironically, came against Arkansas and Oklahoma State.

The Hurricane only saw two hitters bat above .300 during the season, but they do find themselves with the most productive hitter in this regional, senior Julia Hollingsworth. Hollingworth’s batting average was .420 during the regular season while finishing with 25 RBIs. Only one of Tulsa’s batters recorded 30 or more RBIs.

The Hurricane place the majority of the workload on three pitchers. Of the three, freshman Chenice Delce led the team in both ERA and opponent batting average. Delce’s 1.60 ERA is tied for the best among all pitchers in this regional that started more than 20 games, while her opponent batting average of .208 is the best in the Stillwater, Oklahoma regional among pitchers to start more than 20 games. Her teammate, sophomore Samantha Pochop, owns the regionals’ second-best opponent batting average of .216.

Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo
Rylee Jensen slides into home plate during BYU’s 19-4 win over UTEP on Feb. 16. (Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

BYU has played 10 games against ranked opponents this season, going winless in those ten matchups. Finishing with an overall record of 29-24 and a conference record of 12-3, the Cougars look to write an underdog story in this regional.

BYU’s roster has three players with a batting average of .300 or better with over 100 plate appearances. Of those three players, junior Rylee Jensen led the way as the Cougars’ only player with double-digit home runs and 30 or more RBIs.

The bulk of the pitching workload was shared between fellow sophomores Autumn Moffat and Arissa Paulson. The pitching duo combined for a 2.62 ERA while allowing an opponent batting average of .246.

The Stillwater regional will be available to watch on ESPN 3 and Watch ESPN, while the audio will be available through Oklahoma State’s radio network by clicking on the link on BYU’s schedule.

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