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Oklahoma State softball: Five things to know about Texas Longhorns in NCAA Super Regional

Scott Wright

STILLWATER — Oklahoma State is intimately familiar with its NCAA softball super regional opponent, Texas, having played the Longhorns four times this season — all within the last month.

OSU won all four matchups, but three of them were decided by one or two runs. 

Now the teams are set up for at least two more games, and potentially three, in a best-of-three super regional at OSU’s Cowgirl Stadium with a berth in the Women’s College World Series on the line.

OSU and Texas will meet at 4 p.m. Friday on ESPN2, 3 p.m. Saturday on ESPN, and if necessary, at 5 p.m. Sunday on ESPNU.

Here are five things to know about the Longhorns:

Texas celebrates defeating Oregon 1-0 during the Austin Regional final in the NCAA softball tournament, Sunday, May, 23, 2021.

1. Surviving Oregon

Getting here was a battle for the Longhorns, who got pushed all the way to the if-necessary game by Oregon in their regional before advancing with a 1-0 win in the early hours of Monday morning. 

A long rain delay on Sunday pushed the regional final back several hours, then Oregon furthered things with a 3-2 win to force the final game. 

In the win-or-go-home game, Texas got a fourth-inning RBI single from pinch-hitter Jordyn Whitaker that turned out to be the difference. With stout defense backing a strong pitching performance from Molly Jacobsen, a graduate transfer from Ole Miss, Texas survived. Jacobsen allowed five hits and walked one, striking out two.

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Texas pitcher Molly Jacobsen throws against Oregon during the Austin Regional final on Sunday night.

2. One-two pitching punch

Jacobsen is part of a two-headed monster in the circle for Texas.

Shealyn O’Leary makes up the other half, and has been the Longhorns’ ace, with a 15-5 record and 1.79 ERA this season. She has 13 complete games in 23 starts, striking out 114 batters in 148 ⅔ innings.

Jacobsen is 14-5 with a 3.02 ERA and 73 strikeouts in 88 innings. But Jacobsen struggled in her only start against OSU, allowing six runs on eight hits in four innings of the final regular-season meeting between the teams. OSU won 6-4. 

O’Leary has had better luck, but drew a pair of losses in her two starts. She has allowed six runs in 18 ⅔ innings pitched against the Cowgirls. 

Texas' Janae Jefferson goes to bat against Oklahoma State during an NCAA softball game on Saturday, May 1, 2021, in Austin, Texas (AP Photo/Stephen Spillman)

3. Hitters hit

While Texas has had trouble scoring against OSU — two or fewer runs in three of the four meetings — offense hasn’t been an issue for the Longhorns most of the season. Texas has the third-best team batting average in NCAA Division I at .348.

Janae Jefferson leads the way with a .444 batting average, .492 on-base percentage and 14 stolen bases in 15 tries. 

Every regular starter in the Texas lineup is batting above .300.

For power, Texas turns to Mary Iakopo and Shannon Rhodes, who each have 15 home runs and have combined for 88 RBIs.

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Texas head coach Mike White celebrates defeating Oregon 1-0 during the Austin Regional final in the NCAA softball tournament, Sunday, May, 23, 2021.

4. Mike White’s turnaround job

Texas coach Mike White is doing exactly what he was brought to Texas to do — win games. Texas hired White away from Oregon prior to the 2019 season.

While at Oregon, White coached the Ducks to the WCWS five times, along with nine super-regional appearances. 

Texas hired him to turn around a program that hadn’t hosted a regional or advanced to a super regional since 2013 and White immediately took the Longhorns there in his first season. After the pandemic-shortened season of 2020, White has the Horns back in the super-regional round in his second postseason. 

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5. Chasing the WCWS

Texas has been to the Women’s College World Series five times, all since 1998. And three of those appearances were led by legendary pitcher Cat Osterman in 2003, 2005 and 2006. 

Texas’ last appearance at the WCWS was in 2013. No Texas team has won more than two games at the WCWS.

The Longhorns have a 35-26 all-time record against Oklahoma State. This weekend marks the teams’ first meeting in the NCAA Tournament.

Oklahoma State's Kiley Naomi (5) gets the out on Texas' Camille Corona (28) during the Big 12 Softball tournament at Hall of Fame Stadium.