The 2022 Women's College World Series begins Thursday, and seven teams will have the opportunity to stop No. 1 seed Oklahoma from repeating.
To say the Sooners have dominated would be an understatement. They have run-ruled their opponents in 38 of 56 games this season en route to a 54-2 record. They lead the country in batting average, runs scored and ERA. And they boast the home run queen in Jocelyn Alo, who has homered in four of their five NCAA tournament games thus far.
Caesars Sportsbook has the Sooners at -350 odds to win it all. The field is at +270.
The Sooners' repeat bid begins with a matchup against No. 9 seed Northwestern (2:30 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN App). If they win, they would play the winner of Texas and No. 5 UCLA (noon ET, ESPN/ESPN App).
On the other side of the bracket, Oregon State faces No. 14 Florida (7 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN App), while Arizona faces No. 7 Oklahoma State (9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN App).
Can anyone prevent Oklahoma from winning it all again? Do any of the three unseeded teams -- the most in a single WCWS -- have a chance at shocking the world? Our analysts make their WCWS predictions.
Which team are you most surprised that made it to the WCWS?
Michele Smith: Oregon State and Arizona. Both teams have played their best ball of the year at the end of the season, and that's always a huge component of making it to the WCWS. Oregon State beating Tennessee on the road shows just how good the Beavers are.
Jenny Dalton-Hill: If you had asked me five weeks ago and told me Arizona would make the WCWS, I would never have believed you. After all, they were swept to begin Pac-12 play and were last in the standings. Caitlin Lowe is a wizard to not just figure out how to get the most of this team, but to do that in her first year at the helm after replacing Mike Candrea.
Amanda Scarborough: I'm most surprised Oregon State made it to the WCWS. The Beavers were one of the last four teams into the tournament and they've had to play regionals and super regionals on the road. The biggest surprise to me came when they beat No. 11 Tennessee, and they haven't looked back since.
Jen Schroeder: I'm going to say Arizona. For me, it's because they lost their first eight games in conference play. I really felt like on Selection Sunday, we were waiting to see if their name was going to be called, and now we're going to be watching them in the WCWS.
What makes this year's Oklahoma team different than last year's team?
Smith: I believe their pitching is more consistent this year, however the injury to Jordy Bahl will make them have to rely even more on their offense. It's incredible to say, but their offense is even better this year than last year's amazing offensive team. It's mind blowing.
Dalton-Hill: This year's team has fewer home runs but more maturity and experience. They have less experience in the circle but a more calm offense that doesn't panic. Their two losses taught them the lessons needed to be a complete team, and it shows. If they get Jordy Bahl back, whew!
Scarborough: Their pitching staff. Last year, their ERA was 2.49. This year, their ERA is a staggering 0.80. They're not giving up as many runs, and interestingly enough, they're run production is a *tick* down. Last year, they averaged 10.6 runs per game, and this year it's a 9.19 runs per game clip. (Both are extremely good.)
Schroeder: Oklahoma's pitching depth this year makes them a tougher team to face in the postseason. Their top three arms each have an ERA under 1.00.
Who has the best chance at stopping the Sooners from repeating?
Smith: UCLA and/or Oklahoma State. Oklahoma State has seen OU's pitching in four games this year. And if Megan Faraimo is on fire, the Bruins could be a tough game for the Sooners.
Dalton-Hill: It's not who can keep up with them with pitching and defense. You have to be able to keep up with their offense. This group can score -- and score a lot. Two teams have shown they can beat them once, but I don't see anyone able to beat them twice.
Scarborough: I think Oklahoma State has the best chance. Coming into the WCWS, Kelly Maxwell is pitching lights out and hasn't allowed a run in the NCAA tournament. The Cowgirls also have the confidence knowing that they have beaten them before and know them well.
Schroeder: I believe UCLA has the best chance at stopping the Sooners from repeating. Both Megan Faraimo and Holly Azevedo have 20 wins -- only the ninth time they've had teammates with 20 wins in program history. And who wouldn't want an epic rematch of the 2019 championship series?
Who will be the last two teams standing?
Dalton-Hill: I would love to see a UCLA-Arizona final -- they met in the championship seven times before, with Arizona winning four of those -- but in the end, one of the final teams will be Oklahoma.
Scarborough: With the chaos that has already ensued this postseason, there is absolutely no way to tell! But an Oklahoma-Oklahoma State final would certainly be intriguing.
Schroeder: If this were a postseason where chalk holds on both sides of the bracket, I would pick Oklahoma-Oklahoma State. However, this postseason has been nothing like that. I could see Oklahoma beating UCLA in the winners bracket, then UCLA advancing to the championship series once the bracket flips. It also wouldn't be surprising to see an Oklahoma-Florida matchup. Either way, what I've learned this postseason is to expect the unexpected.