OKLAHOMA CITY (ABC4 Sports) – It still really hasn’t sunk in that the Utes, who didn’t even make the NCAA Tournament last year, are in the Women’s College World Series for the first time since 1994.

“It’s very surreal being here in Oklahoma City,” Utes first baseman Ellessa Bonstrom said on Wednesday. “I think all of us had dreamed of being here as little girls, and to live out that childhood dream is very special.”

“This is definitely the dream, and I think everyone is still kind of in shock,” said pitcher Mariah Lopez. “Like, this is real, and we’re just trying to make the most of it.”

15th-seeded Utah (42-14) defeated San Diego State in the Super Regionals last weekend, and will take on 7th-seeded Washington (43-13) in the first game Thursday at 7:30 p.m.

Head coach Amy Hogue was a Utes player the last time Utah made it here some 29 years ago, and she says there are some similarities between the two teams.

“I remember that we weren’t expected to be there, kind of like this year,” said Hogue, who also made it as a Utah player in 1991. “We were scrappy and played as a team, kind of like this group. We just had a good time. That’s what Utah does. That’s our culture. It’s been that way, and it is still that way.”

As evidenced by the team continuing their tradition of jumping into the pool after winning the Super Regionals this past weekend.

“That was just something that we knew that Utah softball does,” Bonstrom said. “So we just went with the tradition, and if anyone drowned, we were there to help them up.”

It’s sink or swim time in this double-elimination tournament in Oklahoma City. The Utes are very familiar with their first opponent, Washington, a team they beat twice this year, including an 8-4 victory the Pac-12 Tournament a couple weeks ago.

“I like the fact that it is familiar for us,” Hogue said. “Because this environment is going to be so unfamiliar, that it will give us one more thing to settle our team. If they look up and aren’t used to playing in front of 16,000 people, but they see a hitter that we’re facing that they are familiar with, it might help comfort them.”

The Utes felt they were snubbed in last year’s NCAA Tournament, and that has fueled them all season.

“We had the record and were right there to make it,” Bonstrom said. “But we were just one of those bubble teams that didn’t make it. So I think that kind of led to this year where it’s definitely that chip on the shoulder mentality for this year.”