Arizona Softball

Future Big 12 foe Oklahoma State hopes to keep Arizona “down” starting in Super Regional

Arizona left fielder Dakota Kennedy makes a relay throw during a practice at Oklahoma State (Arizona Athletics photo)

ARIZONA (37-16-1) VS. NO. 5 OKLAHOMA STATE (47-10)
GAME 1 » #17 Arizona vs. #5 Oklahoma State • Friday • 5 p.m. MST • Stillwater, Okla. • Cowgirl Stadium • ESPNU/ESPN+
GAME 2 » #17 Arizona vs. #5 Oklahoma State • Saturday • 4 p.m. MST • Stillwater, Okla. • Cowgirl Stadium • ESPN+
GAME 3 (if necessary) » #17 Arizona vs. #5 Oklahoma State • Sunday • TBD • Stillwater, Okla. • Cowgirl Stadium • ESPN+

Welcome to what could be a preview of the most competitive softball rivalry in the Big 12 for Arizona — a trip to Cowgirl Stadium in Stillwater, Okla., to play No. 5 Oklahoma State in the Super Regional round of the NCAA tournament starting Friday at 5 p.m.

The Cowgirls (47-10) are the only seeded Big 12 team in the Super Regional round other than SEC-bound Texas (No. 1) and Oklahoma (No. 2). Unseeded Baylor remains alive and will play at No. 4 Florida in the Super Regionals.

Unseeded Arizona (37-16-1) is the only Pac-12 program in the Super Regionals headed to the Big 12.

Arizona graphic

No. 6 UCLA (leaving the Pac-12 for the Big Ten) is hosting No. 11 Georgia and No. 8 Stanford (bound for the ACC) is playing No. 9 LSU at Palo Alto, Calif., in the Super Regional round.

“We’re really excited about adding (Arizona) to the Big 12, but we want to do everything we can to keep them down coming into our league,” Oklahoma State coach Kenny Gajewski said. “I say that with respect.”

One-time Arizona transfer-portal target Lexi Kilfoyl of Oklahoma State will try to foil the Wildcats’ opportunity to return to the Women’s College World Series.

Kilfoyl, formerly of Alabama, visited Arizona’s campus in June 2022 before deciding on Oklahoma State.

She was coming off a 9-3 record with a 2.36 ERA during her junior season at Alabama with one of those wins against Arizona.

“I think every girl wants to make it to postseason and this is exactly what I came here to do,” Kilfoyl said. “Just the whole journey has been so amazing. And that’s what I absolutely love about this place is the fun is always first, and that’s at the end of the day what I needed softball to be and that’s what it’s become so it’s everything I’ve ever dreamed of.”

Kilfoyl, 24-3 with a 1.08 ERA, was selected this week as one of three finalists for USA Softball’s Collegiate Player of the Year award.

She was named the Big 12 Pitcher of the Year earlier this month.

In 139 1/3 innings pitched this season, the 6-foot-2 righty has only given up 18 extra-base hits to go with 119 strikeouts.

Arizona coach Caitlin Lowe, who is making her first appearance at Oklahoma State as a coach or player, mentioned the Cowgirls’ pitching and lineup are concerns overall.

“They have a lot of different looks,” Lowe said. “Obviously, Kilfoyl is a great ace for them but really the depth is key there. They’re coached really well. They have a lot of great hitters offensively that can do a lot of different things.

“Just a lot of tools … we’ve been prepping all week for them specifically and having a good approach against each pitcher we face as well as a good defensive plan for each hitter that we’re going to face.”

Oklahoma State senior Ivy Rosenberg would be an ace for many other other programs. Her ERA of 1.79 ranks fourth in the Big 12.

The Cowgirls are 22-1 at home this season, outscoring the opposition 155-40. They hold a 35-6 advantage in home runs. They have a slugging percentage of .604 at home, while opponents slug only .274 in Cowgirl Stadium.

When pitching at home, Kilfoyl is 10-0 with a 1.07 ERA and limits the opposition to a .203 batting average.

The two teams have faced each other 30 times with Arizona holding a 19-10-1 advantage. None of those games were played at Oklahoma State.

The Wildcats will be in Cowgirl Stadium regularly starting next season when they join the Big 12. Oklahoma State will likely be the team to beat in the new conference. Having some experience with conditions in their stadium can only help.

The Wildcats went directly to the Starkville (Miss.) Super Regional without coming home first after winning the Columbia (Mo.) Regional two years ago. They did the same this season, going straight from the Fayetteville (Ark.) Regional to the Stillwater.

“We practice in Tulsa on the way here,” Lowe said. “It’s a three-hour drive (from Fayetteville), so we didn’t want to fly home and then fly back. It’s kind of nice getting used to the weather and getting used to practicing away from home.

“It’s not going to feel like home when we play in these games. It’s going to feel different. I like to keep them in that mindset.”

Arizona will continue to use mostly two pitchers — Aissa Silva (22-5, 3.03 ERA) and Miranda Stoddard (6-8, 3.92) with freshman Brooke Mannon (7-3, 4.48).

The Wildcats’ lineup is one of the most deep and dangerous in the country and Lowe’s team is also one of the best defensive teams.

Arizona is ranked in the top 30 in the nation in six categories:
» Fielding percentage [.980 – 3rd]
» Batting average [.331 – 13th]
» Scoring [6.31 – 13th]
» On-base percentage [.407 – 13th]
» Slugging percentage [.531 – 13th]
» Home runs per game [1.29 – 17th]

The Wildcats blasted six home runs at the Fayetteville Regional, led by Dakota Kennedy, who hit three home runs. The sophomore hit .500 and drove in five runs to lead Arizona to the 3-0 sweep of the regional.

Six Wildcats were named to the NFCA All-West Region teams. Kennedy, Regan Shockey and Ironwood Ridge alum Allie Skaggs earned first-team All-West honors. Silva made the second team while Olivia DiNardo and Tucson High graduate Carlie Scupin earned third-team honors.

“We’re playing good softball at the right time, all around,” Skaggs said. “The team that has the three major things that you need (hitting, pitching and defense) is going to be the team to win.”

FOLLOW @JAVIERJMORALES ON TWITTER! publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports,, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon. He became an educator in 2016 and is presently a special education teacher at Sunnyside High School in the Sunnyside Unified School District.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
To Top