Duke softball [608x342]
Duke softball [608x342] (Credit: AP Photo/Doug Murray)

Lauren Down back on NZC s central-contracts list

After an exciting regional weekend, only 16 teams remain in the quest to reach the 2024 Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City.

No. 1 Texas, No. 2 Oklahoma, No. 3 Tennessee and No. 4 Florida all made it through regionals unscathed. Two unseeded teams, Arizona and Baylor, upset hosts Arkansas and Louisiana to get to super regionals.

We'll see a 2023 WCWS rematch with FSU taking on Oklahoma, the Texas and Texas A&M rivalry renewed and SEC foes Tennessee and Alabama battling it out.

What must the unseeded teams do to make a run at the WCWS? What will the FSU-OU rematch bring? We broke down each best-of-three super regional, determining the key for every remaining team to earn a trip to OKC.

All times ET

No. 1 Texas vs. No. 16 Texas A&M

Austin Super Regional schedule  Game 1: Friday, 6 p.m., ESPN2 Game 2: Saturday, 5 p.m. Game 3 (if necessary): Sunday, TBD

Texas wins if... it can limit errors. The Longhorns' 2023 season ended after they committed five errors against Tennessee. There were also a few losses this season where Texas got in its own way, helping the opponent capitalize off its mistakes. Oklahoma forced two and Baylor forced three errors out of Texas in the Big 12 tournament that Texas ultimately lost. The Longhorns must remain disciplined if they want to make it back to OKC.

Texas A&M wins if... it relies on its defense. The Longhorns' batters are hard to stop, but the Aggies can do that. Texas leads the remaining teams in batting average (.383) and scoring (8.16 per game). However, Texas A&M boasts the talented arms of Emiley Kennedy, Shaylee Ackerman and Emily Leavitt who can mow down any batter. Kennedy, who leads the staff, has won 23 games this season and posts a 1.57 ERA with 191 strikeouts. The Aggies defense has also put together a .975 fielding percentage.

No. 2 Oklahoma vs. No. 15 Florida State

Norman Super Regional schedule Game 1: Thursday, 7 p.m., ESPN2 Game 2: Friday, 8 p.m. Game 3 (if necessary): Saturday, TBD

Oklahoma wins if ... it takes advantage of FSU's pitching troubles. The Seminoles lost Allison Royalty to a season-ending injury in regionals and have been without Makenna Reid for the last month. FSU's inexperienced staff will face a Sooners offense that ranks third in scoring (averaging 8.07 scores per game) and second in batting average (.365). Oklahoma knows FSU will be looking for revenge after the 2023 WCWS, but if it has success in the batter's box, this series could swing in its favor again.

Florida State wins if ... it can outslug Oklahoma. With many questions surrounding the Seminoles' pitching staff, its return to OKC will likely depend on consistency at-bat. The Seminoles are familiar with pitcher Kelly Maxwell's game -- facing her three times last season when she was at Oklahoma State -- and are hitting .336. The bats are hot for FSU, as are Oklahoma's, but without a shutdown pitcher, getting revenge against the Sooners will likely be a result of at least two slugfests. FSU's quest for revenge will not be easy, but this Sooners team has proven to be beatable.

No. 3 Tennessee vs. No. 14 Alabama

Knoxville Super Regional schedule  Game 1: Friday, 4 p.m., ESPN2 Game 2: Saturday, 3 p.m. Game 3 (if necessary): Sunday, TBD

Tennessee wins if ... it allows Karlyn Pickens and Payton Gottshall to continue dominating. Pickens (1.15) and Gottshall (1.21) rank fifth and sixth in the nation, respectively, in ERA heading into Super Regionals. The Vols have had 22 shutouts on the season, which is tied with Oklahoma for the second-most in Division I this season. Tennessee continued its shutout dominance during the Knoxville Regional, allowing the offense to outscore its opponents 21-0. That was good enough to be the fourth-most runs scored without allowing a run by an SEC team in a single regional. If Tennessee allows Pickens and Gottshall to work on the rubber, it'll be hard to keep the Vols from OKC.

Alabama wins if ... it forgets the regular season and replicates its regional success. The Crimson Tide entered the Tuscaloosa Regional final 12th in the SEC in scoring and with the second-fewest hits. However, they looked like a new team during regionals. Alabama scored nine runs on 10 hits in the first inning (its most in a single inning all season) against Southeastern Louisiana. Tennessee boasts one of the fiercest pitching staffs led by Pickens and Gottshall, so it'll be hard to hit against it. But if the Tide can rally their bats and stifle the outfield, they can be dangerous.

No. 4 Florida vs. Baylor

Gainesville Super Regional schedule Game 1: Friday, 12 p.m., ESPN2 Game 2: Saturday, 11 a.m. Game 3 (if necessary): Sunday, TBD

Florida wins if ... its bats stay hot. These days, it's pretty hard to find a Florida game where the Gators score less than five runs. That's why the Gators rank second in runs scored with 488 brought home on the season. Florida coasts into super regionals after sweeping through the SEC tournament and the Gainesville Regional and scoring 46 runs across the past two weeks. The Gators will face a Baylor pitching staff that has a 3.53 ERA and has allowed 209 runs in 56 games.

Baylor wins if ... it keeps scoring by committee. The Gators will be hard to drag down, but the Bears look ready to fight. Baylor showed its toughness in the Lafayette Regional. In four games, it registered 20 hits and 15 runs. Two-way player Aliyah Binford brought her A-game, hitting a grand slam against Louisiana. Across the weekend, eight different players contributed to the Bears' runs. Emily Hott led the pack with four, while Shaylon Govan had three and Sydney Collazos and Taylor Strain had two.

No. 5 Oklahoma State vs. Arizona

Stillwater Super Regional schedule  Game 1: Friday, 8 p.m., ESPNU Game 2: Saturday, 7 p.m. Game 3 (if necessary): Sunday, TBD

Oklahoma State wins if ... Lexi Kilfoyl continues to mow down hitters. With Kilfoyl on the rubber, the Cowgirls can beat anyone. In the regionals final against Michigan, Kilfoyl retired 17 straight batters from the first to the seventh inning. She stifled their bats with eight strikeouts, tied for her second-most this season. What was her best of the season, you might be wondering? She tossed 12 strikeouts the day prior against Kentucky. The USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year top-three finalist reminded everyone that she's the top-notch ace that the Cowgirls need if they want to make it to OKC.

Arizona wins if ... it can keep the momentum going. The Wildcats started setting the pace in April, wrapping up the season with series wins over UCLA, Arizona State, Oregon and Utah. Then they blasted through the Fayetteville Regionals, outsourcing their opponents 25-8. Oklahoma State committed a season-high five errors against BYU in the Big 12 tournament. If the Wildcats can keep finding success in the batter's box and force the Cowgirls to get in their way, they can come out on top.

No. 6 UCLA vs. No. 11 Georgia

Los Angeles Super Regional schedule  Game 1: Thursday, 9:30 p.m., ESPN2 Game 2: Friday, 10 p.m. Game 3 (if necessary): Saturday, TBD

UCLA wins if ... it hangs onto what it learned against Virginia Tech. UCLA went from starting the season 2-3, its worst record in almost two decades, and losing 7-2 to Georgia in the Clearwater Invitational to escaping their regional unscathed. One of the biggest reasons for that turnaround is the program's grit which was on full display against the Hokies. The Bruins were down 4-0 after the second inning and then down again 6-5 going into the bottom of the seventh inning. Both times the bats rallied. The win was also made possible thanks to freshman Kaitlyn Terry's ability to stall Virginia Tech's dominant power-hitting offense.

Georgia wins if ... it keeps blasting homers. For the second consecutive year, the Bulldogs led the regionals weekend in home runs. They hit nine homers in five games, bringing the season total to 92. Sara Mosley had three dingers, Sydney Chambley hit two, while Dallis Goodnight, Jayda Kearney, Lyndi Rae Davis and Emily Digby contributed to the effort with one. Georgia will face a UCLA pitching staff that lacks supers experience, while many Bulldog hitters are appearing for the second straight year.

No. 7 Missouri vs. No. 10 Duke

Columbia Super Regional schedule  Game 1: Friday, 2 p.m., ESPN2 Game 2: Saturday, 1 p.m. Game 3 (if necessary): Sunday, TBD

Missouri wins if ... Laurin Krings keeps taking charge. After Mizzou dropped the first game of the Columbia Regional to Omaha, the Tigers brought in Krings to rally the team. She had an impressive weekend, throwing four straight games in two days. She delivered 24 strikeouts, including a season-high 15 in the final against Omaha, in almost 25 innings of work. If she keeps bringing the heat, Missouri can silence the seventh-highest-scoring offense in the nation in Duke.

Duke wins if ... its offense scores early and often. In Missouri's two losses in May, both saw the Tigers down after the opponent scored in either the first or second inning. Of their May wins, 11 out of 12 came with the opponents blanked until at least the fourth inning. The Tigers have their best games when they are in control from the jump, so that's what Duke needs to avoid. Especially if Krings keeps up her regionals pace, the Blue Devils need to come out of the gate swinging. Duke boasts a .332 batting average, 500 hits and has scored 385 runs.

No. 8 Stanford vs. No. 9 LSU

Stanford Super Regional schedule  Game 1: Friday, 10 p.m., ESPNU Game 2: Saturday, 9 p.m. Game 3 (if necessary): Sunday, TBD

Stanford wins if ... Nijaree Canady pitches every inning. Just kidding (sort of). Canady carried the load for the Cardinal in the Stanford Regional like she has done all season. The USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year top-three finalist finished regionals with a tournament-leading 36 strikeouts, and in the final against Cal State Fullerton, she delivered 13 strikeouts -- her 18th game of the season with 10+ strikes. Canady is Stanford. Without her, it'll be hard for the Cardinal to keep this exciting LSU offense quiet.

LSU wins if ... the Tigers' batters can make adjustments in the box. Like I just said, Canady is Stanford. If LSU wants to book its trip to OKC, its offense will have to quickly figure out how to have success against her signature riseball. And that'll start with the Tigers' home run leader Taylor Pleasants. She showed up big time in the Baton Rouge Regional, recording two home runs and five RBIs. Are you curious to know how impactful Pleasants is to the Tigers' success? LSU is 8-1 when she has homered this season. If she can do the nearly impossible and hit the ball over the fence on Canady -- who has allowed only seven this season but allowed one against Mississippi State in regionals -- LSU could make its first return to the WCWS since 2017.