The Women’s College World Series will continue with Game 2 on Thursday night in Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma was a slight favorite in Game 1, but ended up with a comfortable 8-3 victory over the Longhorns on Wednesday. Oklahoma tagged Texas starter Teagan Kavan for 5 runs (including 3 homers) in the first 3 innings before adding an insurance run in the 5th, 6th and 7th frames.

It was an impressive performance for Oklahoma, who is now a -520 favorite to win its 4th consecutive Women’s College World Series according to the latest odds at FanDuel. Let’s breakdown Game 2 of this best-of-3 series:

Women’s College World Series betting lines (Game 2)

Where to bet Oklahoma: bet365 | -135

Where to bet Texas: DraftKings | +120

Although the series price has shifted drastically in Oklahoma’s favor, Texas is still very much in this battle at +120 odds in Game 2. However, the starting pitching matchups could look very different for both teams going into Thursday night’s contest.

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Will Oklahoma rest Kelly Maxwell?

Outside of a couple rough innings vs. Florida, Kelly Maxwell has been utterly dominant in the circle for Oklahoma. However, she’s thrown well over 250 pitches in the last 2 days, so it would make sense for Oklahoma to give her an off day and try to win Game 2 with Nicole May or Kierston Deal in the circle. History indicates Maxwell will rest in Game 2 as well.

Beyond the rest considerations given Maxwell’s workload, OU head coach Patty Gasso has consistently sat her ace pitcher when faced with this decision in previous years. In 2023, it was Alex Storako who started Game 2 while Jordy Bahl rested. In 2016, Gasso went with reserves Kelsey Stevens and Jayden Chestnut in Game 2 instead of All-American Paige Parker. Even at earlier stages in the tournament (including in this year’s semifinal against Florida) Gasso has consistently rested her ace when the Sooners are in a situation where they only need to win 1 of their next 2 games.

Over and over again, Gasso has chosen to concede a marginal advantage in Game 2 in exchange for guaranteed rest for her ace. It’s a somewhat-controversial philosophy that has paid off for Oklahoma in the long run on nearly every occasion. The Sooners are 1 win away from their 6th title in 8 seasons and the first-ever 4-peat, after all.

So if you’re keeping an eye on the betting lines for this game, it’s worth noting that Maxwell will likely not start in the circle for Oklahoma in Game 2. May and Deal have both struggled at times during this postseason, but have pitched well throughout the year. May brings a bit more experience as a senior while Deal is a lefty (Texas has struggled more against southpaws this season) who has been tremendous when she’s on her game. Maxwell could enter the game in the late innings to protect a lead (as Bahl did in Game 2 last season).

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Texas goes back to the drawing board

In our series preview, it was noted that Texas had 3 good options to start Game 1 against the Sooners: Kavan, Mac Morgan and Citaly Gutierrez. Gutierrez pitched the most against Oklahoma during the regular season (with solid results), but it’s been almost exclusive Kavan and Morgan during the Women’s College World Series. Kavan ended up getting the nod for Game 1 and got rocked: 5 hits, 5 earned runs and 0 strikeouts in 2.2 innings.

Now in Game 2, Mike White will have an interesting choice to make. Going back to Kavan after Wednesday’s outing seems to be unlikely. Morgan has been Texas’ No. 2 during the WCWS, but Gutierrez has much more familiarity with Oklahoma’s lineup. Both Morgan and Gutierrez pitched in relief of Kavan on Wednesday. Morgan threw 1.2 scoreless innings while Gutierrez gave up an earned run in 1 frame.

Regardless of who gets the call, it will be a tough task to face this Oklahoma lineup that is loaded with power and experience. Tiare Jennings, Kinzie Hansen and Kasidi Pickering all homered on Wednesday. Jayda Coleman, Alyssa Brito, Ella Parker and Cydney Sanders all have the power to change the game with one swing of the bat.

First pitch of Game 2 is set for 8 p.m. ET on Thursday night. The game will be broadcast on ESPN.

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