Last weekend, Kansas softball snuck its way into the final spot in the Big 12 tournament and now faces a tall task in taking on No. 19 Texas Tech and No. 1 Oklahoma.
The Jayhawks will more than likely need to win both games in order to advance to the title game on Saturday, and there is only one way for that to happen.
Senior Brynn Minor has undoubtedly been Kansas’ best pitcher this season, although her 6-19 record does not support that. Her 3.87 ERA over 164 2/3 innings, however, does.
In this tournament, Minor will have to shift to a gear she has yet to find this season.
In the Jayhawk’s 6-4 win over Texas Tech on April 18, Minor had perhaps her best performance of the season holding the then-No. 12 Red Raiders to one run over six innings.
A similar, if not better, outing will be absolutely vital if Kansas wants to repeat in upsetting Texas Tech.
Minor did allow eight hits to Texas Tech who could not do anything with those chances, leaving 10 on base. A good team like Texas Tech does not miss many opportunities, and Kansas should not count on that happening again.
That game, believe it or not, will be the easy one. If Kansas can get past Texas Tech, it will then face the No. 1-ranked and defending Big 12 champion Oklahoma and be one win away from the tournament final.
In the Jayhawks' series against the Sooners earlier this season, they were swept and outscored 23-0.
The good news for Kansas is it only faces Oklahoma once this this time, and if it can find a way to chink the armor of the Sooners it could find itself one win away from an NCAA tournament berth.
This will only be possible if Minor can keep the Sooners off the scoreboard completely.
Kansas struggled mightily on offense against Oklahoma and pushing across one run will be difficult enough against a pitching staff with a combined 1.17 ERA on the season.
Oklahoma on offense is just as good, with a team average of .367 while scoring almost eight runs per game.
Minor is the Jayhawks' best weapon and she is the only one who can pull off the seemingly impossible in the coming days.
Minor has put together a great season in her final year, but if she can go up against the best of the best and find a way to go one notch higher, Kansas could find itself in the tournament final on Saturday with a chance to cap off an unbelievable run.