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Women’s College World Series: One key player for each team

(C. Morgan Engel/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

The Women’s College World Series is here, with eight teams all in the hunt for the national championship.

While there are plenty of great players on every team, Just Women’s Sports highlights one player to watch from each.

Oklahoma: Jordy Bahl

While Jocelyn Alo certainly has been the biggest name out of Oklahoma softball this year, freshman Jordy Bahl also has been a name to know.

The pitcher was named NFCA Freshman of the Year this week after a dominant rookie campaign. She hasn’t pitched since Oklahoma’s regular season finale due to an injury, but according to head coach Patti Gasso, Bahl will make her return to the circle this week.

“You’re going to see her pitch this week,” Gasso said during a press conference Wednesday. “How much? We’re still working.”

Bahl could be an issue for any opponent whenever she returns to the circle. The second-best pitcher on OU’s staff behind Hope Trautwein, she posted a 0.95 ERA during the regular season.

UCLA: Maya Brady

UCLA sophomore Maya Brady struggled a bit this season, hitting just .274 during Pac-12 play and hitting just five for 35 in the 12 games before her current streak.

But she’s turned the wheels on during the postseason, hitting .438. She arrives in Oklahoma City with a hit in 10 of her last 11 games. That includes a 3-for-3, two-RBI performance in UCLA’s win over Duke last week to clinch the super regional.

Oklahoma State: Kelly Maxwell

An All-American first teamer, Kelly Maxwell pitched a 1.16 ERA on the season en route to a 19-4 record. The Big 12 conference strikeout leader, she’s pitched 279 strikes heading into the WCWS.

Included in that number is her 13-strikeout, two-hit performance against Clemson in the team’s Super Regional en route to a 2-0 series win over the Tigers.

“When you have somebody like Kelly, you feel good going into any game that she’s gonna throw,” said Oklahoma State coach Kenny Gajewski.

Northwestern: Danielle Williams

Northwestern pitcher Danielle Williams has been a stalwart of the Wildcats’ defense this season, pitching her way to NFCA first team All-American honors alongside teammate Rachel Lewis.

Heading into the Women’s College World Series, she’s the only pitcher to have pitched in all of her team’s postseason games. Through six starts, she’s thrown 681 pitches.

Over three games against Arizona State in the Super Regionals, she threw 430 pitches in 23 ⅓ innings. That includes a 179-pitch, 11 inning performance in the series opener to lift the Cats 4-3 over the Sun Devils.

And don’t count out catcher Jordyn Rudd, either. Rudd just won the inaugural Golden Glove award given to the season’s best catcher. She also has the best batting average on the team, making her a dual threat.

Florida: Skylar Wallace

With a .407 batting average, Skylar Wallace has helped propel No. 14 Florida to its 11th WCWS in 15 seasons. But while Wallace is a major piece of the Gators’ team, coach Tim Walton has pointed to the team’s ability to work together as a major reason why they’re back in Oklahoma City.

“The chemistry on the field,” Walton said. “The chemistry in our work ethic and just the constant ability to communicate with each other the right way.”

Wallace, as part of a duo with Kendra Falby, has combined to contribute 87 stolen bases out of the Gators’ 131. An Alabama transfer, she’s been unstoppable for Florida this season.

“Skylar had probably one of the best seasons in Division I softball history,” Walton said.

Texas: Janae Jefferson

The all-time hits leader at Texas and the Big 12 career hits and batting average leader, Janae Jefferson has been a stalwart this season for Texas, showing up in big moments — for example, when she scored the decisive run in the Longhorn’s 3-0 win over Arkansas to propel her team to its first WCWS since 2013.

Jefferson has a .431 batting average this season, the second-best amongst the teams in the WCWS. Only Oklahoma’s Alo has a better batting average this season.

On Wednesday, she joined Cat Osterman as the only other Longhorn to be a four-time All-American.

Oregon State: Mariah Mazon

Mariah Mazon is one half of the “Bash Sisters,” alongside Frankie Hammoude. The duo hit 27 combined home runs on the year.

A threat in the circle and the batters’ box, Mazon was named a first team All-American by the NFCA. She has a team-record 861 strikeouts in her career, and she’s notched 220 of them this season. On top of her 2.18 ERA on the season, she’s also hitting .366.

Arizona: Allie Skaggs

Hard-nosed hitter Allie Skaggs enters the WCWS having tied for the most home runs in the Pac-12 to end the regular season. Currently at 24 on the season, she could break the tie with one swing during the World Series.

Her 24 home runs ties her for fourth in the country. She’s also batted in 58 runs, which ranks 19th in Division I, and has a .818 slugging percentage. Recently named a second team NFCA All-American, she’ll lead the unseeded Wildcats into Oklahoma City.