OKLAHOMA CITY – For the sixth time in their program’s history, they’ve reached the pinnacle of collegiate women’s softball.

Northwestern is back in the Women’s College World Series in 2022, making it for the first time in 15 years. While they’ve been at this level before, they’ll be trying to win their first national championship in program history having finished as a runner-up in the 2006 WCWS.

Head coach Kate Drohan was leading that team along with the last Wildcats squad to make it to the series in 2007. Over the winter and spring, this group has gone 45-11 overall with a Big Ten regular season championship.

Ninth-ranked Northwestern will open the tournament on Thursday in Oklahoma City against top-ranked Oklahoma at 1:30 PM at the USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium.

“It’s been really fun coaching this team this year. They’re an incredible group of women who have worked really, really hard,” said Drohan. “I’m honored to take the field with them, and especially these last few weeks it’s been — we’ve been tested in a lot of ways, and I’m really proud of our toughness to get to this moment.”

After winning their eighth conference regular season title in school history, the Wildcats swept through their regional games in Evanston, beating Oakland once and McNeese twice to advance to the Super Regional in Tempe.

Against eighth-ranked Arizona State, the Wildcats split the first two games but looked in trouble in the decisive third on Sunday when they fell behind the Sun Devils 5-0 after three innings. But Northwestern collected themselves and scored eight runs in the next four frames to win it 8-6 and clinch a spot in the WCWS.

It now gives the team a shot to play for their first national championship in the single-elimination tournament, starting with their game with the Sooners on Thursday.

“I think what’s really special about this group is our authenticity with each other and our vulnerability with each other,” said senior infielder and River Forest native Maeve Nelson about the characteristics of the 2022 team. “Kate keeps saying to us too that that translates on to the field, and that allows us to be really gritty in those moments that you saw over the weekend that our authenticity with each other allows us to be gritty and come back from a 5-0 deficit.

“I think those wins really show just how we can come together as a group and how we’re prepared for this moment and this game for tomorrow.”