Oklahoma and Oklahoma State softball clash in Bedlam Series

Oklahoma State pitcher Miranda Elish is a question mark for the series against Oklahoma. (Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman/USA Today Network)

In one of the biggest NCAA softball series of the season, No. 1 Oklahoma squares off against No. 6 Oklahoma State in the Bedlam Series starting Thursday night.

All three games in the series will air on ESPN’s family of networks. The first game, originally scheduled for 9 p.m. ET Thursday on ESPN2, was moved to ESPN at 8 p.m. ET.

Friday’s game will air on ESPN2 at 7 p.m. ET, while Saturday’s game is on ESPNU at 5 p.m. ET.

It’s a winner-take-all series, with the victor emerging as the Big 12 regular season champion. Oklahoma will look to win its 10th straight regular season conference title and 14th overall.

Each team sits at 14-1 in the Big 12. Oklahoma has an overall record of 45-1 while Oklahoma State is 38-9 after dropping two against Florida State last weekend.

Cowgirls pitcher Miranda Elish could make her return to the mound against the Sooners after returning to the lineup as a designated player against Florida State. She injured her bicep tendon against Texas on April 24, and while the injury is not as serious as it first appeared, coach Kenny Gajewski said Elish is working through significant pain.

“I don’t know how she’s doing it,” he said, “but there’s no harm to her body.”

The No. 1-ranked recruit in 2017, Elish joined the Cowgirls after taking a break in 2021. She previously spent the COVID-19 shortened season at Texas, posting a 1.58 ERA and batting .370 as a senior. She went 49-2 in her first two seasons at Oregon.

Before going down with the injury against Texas, she was averaging a 2.09 ERA – good for second on the team behind Kelly Maxwell – and a team-high .379 batting average.

If she returns, she could provide a boost against an Oklahoma team that is averaging 8.93 runs per game – which ranks first in the NCAA – and has run-ruled opponents 34 times this season while also getting off to the best start in NCAA history. The Cowgirls’ bats, which have averaged 5.64 runs per game, will also have to get going against a pitching group at Oklahoma that has a combined ERA of 0.71 – the best in the NCAA.

Hope Trautwein leads Oklahoma pitchers with a 0.09 ERA, first in the NCAA, and is followed by Nicole May (0.84) and Jordy Bahl (0.96). Bahl has a record of 20-1 on the mound while Oklahoma State’s Maxwell is 15-2.

Last year, despite being similarly dominant throughout the season, Oklahoma won the series against Oklahoma State by just three runs total. The Sooners’ near decade-long winning streak over Oklahoma State also ended last year.

“They’re a strong team and I’m just excited to compete in the atmosphere,” Oklahoma sophomore second baseman Tiare Jennings said Tuesday. “Bedlam is just so amazing and so fun that I think just the competitive spirit, you feel it.

“So I think Bedlam is going to be a good one. It’s just going to be a dogfight.”

Oklahoma coach Patty Gasso affirmed that sentiment.

“We’re very much alike in the way of just — they’ve got power,” Gasso said Tuesday. “When you look at a lot of our numbers and comparisons, there’s a reason why this is gonna be a good matchup because these two teams are pretty equal in a lot of ways.”