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After beating Texas A&M, who will Texas softball face in NCAA Women’s College World Series?



Texas softball will open the Women’s College World Series on Thursday against a familiar foe.

Behind a 3-hit, complete-game effort from All-American pitcher NiJaree Canady, Stanford walloped LSU 8-0 in the third game of a best-of-three Super Regional series Sunday night to advance to the WCWS in Oklahoma City. The No. 8 Cardinal (48-15) will face top-seeded Texas (51-7) 6 p.m. Thursday at Devon Park. Since the WCWS follows a double-elimination format, the loser of the game won’t be eliminated from the tournament but will have to battle back into contention from the loser’s bracket.

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Canady, who joins Texas catcher Reese Atwood as one of the three finalists for USA Softball’s player of the year award, isn’t a stranger to the Longhorn lineup. She threw all eight innings in a 4-3 extra-inning win by the Cardinal over Texas early in the season, allowing six hits and two earned runs along with 11 strikeouts and two walks.

Canady, a sophomore, brings pure heat to the circle. She leads the nation in strikeouts with 310 as well as ERA with a miniscule 0.67 entering Sunday’s game with LSU.

Immediately after his team’s win over Texas A&M in the third game of their super regional series, Texas coach Mike White didn’t know whether Texas would face Canady and the Cardinal or a slugging LSU squad. He did know that his team would return for the second time in three seasons for the WCWS to Devon Park, which serves as the host of the Big 12 Tournament as well as the U.S. national team.

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“There’s going to a ‘Wow’ factor, don’t get me wrong,” White said. “Maybe half the team has been to the College World Series before, so there’s going to be a ‘Hoosiers’ moment where we’re going to have to probably measure the mound, and base paths – 60-feet-and-turn-left stuff – because they’re going to be an awe about it.

“There’s going to be a lot of stuff happening. But they need to understand that the game’s not going to know all that. You’re going to have to come out and play the game and be ready to go. But I have full confidence that we’ll be able to come out there and give it an A game.”

Atwood, a sophomore who set single-season Texas records for home runs (23), RBIs (90) and total bases (160), has had her A game all season. She’s looking forward to her trip to the WCWS and says she’s “grateful that we have the opportunity to go play on the biggest stage.”

“We’re just getting ready now,” she said. “We got past this really tough series, and now we’ve got to prepare for what we have coming in. It’s definitely not going to be easy, but I have all faith in this team that we’re going to bring everything we have and make our best go at it.

“This has been a dream of mine since I was 10 years old. I can’t believe it, and I’m just so proud of us and proud of our fight. And we’re not done yet; we have business to take care of coming up.”

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