8-seed Alabama (57-9) 5-seed Florida (49-17)
Saturday, June 1, 2019,
1:30pm CT 5:20pm CT
Sooner Stadium North, Oklahoma City, OK
ESPN ~ 93.3 FM
366 days ago, sixth-seeded Florida State fell to 3-seed UCLA 7-4 in the first round of the WCWS. Five days later, the Seminoles were lifting the trophy as National Champs. Ignore the squawks of Chicken Little. The sky is not falling. The Crimson Tide is still in this thing.
Despite losing to Oklahoma on Thursday, this Alabama team went toe-to-toe with the top seeded team on their de facto second home field and never backed down.
The next challenge comes in the form of a familiar foe, the Florida Gators.
These two SEC teams have faced off four times this year:
- Apr 19 (Fri) Alabama 3 Florida 1 - Montana Fouts threw a 2-hitter to outduel Kelly Barnhill.
- Apr 19 (Fri) Alabama 6 Florida 1 - Sarah Cornell also had a 2-hitter, this one against Elizabeth Hightower and Natalie Lugo. Bailey Hemphill and Skylar Wallace hit dingers.
- Apr 20 (Sat) Alabama 3 Florida 0 - Krystal Goodman and Fouts shut out the Gators, hanging a second L on Barnhill. KB Sides hit a 2-run jack.
- May 11 (Sat) Florida 2 Alabama 1 - Barnhill got revenge on the Tide with a complete game win in the SEC Tournament Championship Game. Goodman was replaced by Fouts who promptly gave up two runs and took the loss.
Florida is 49-17 and went 12-12 in the conference. On the opening weekend of the season in Tampa, the Gators beat Michigan (6-0) and Arizona (3-2). A few days later they lost an exhibition to the Japanese National team 8-0, logging two hits. They later defeated Washington 1-0 but lost a pair to UCLA 7-1 and 4-0. Tennessee, LSU, MSU, and Ole Miss each took 2 of 3 from the Gators. Alabama was the only team to sweep them.
UF won four games to win the SEC Tournament and then romped through their Regional. They won their Super Regional against Tennessee two games to one. Thursday, they were upset by Oklahoma State 2-1.
2018 SEC Player of the Year Amanda Lorenz again leads the offense with a .423 batting average, 14 doubles, 11 HR, 41 RBI, and scored 57 runs. Kendyl Lindaman is at .325 with 14 homers and 53 RBI. No other Gator has a batting average north of .300 or double-digit in home runs. They are tied for 178th in team batting average at .264 and score 4.58 runs per game (119th best).
Florida is very fundamentally sound in the field. They are second to only Oklahoma in lowest number of errors with 22 on the season.
The Gators appear to be all about Barnhill or bust in the post-season. They have other pitchers but it would be a surprise to see them participate unless the wheels fall off for Florida.
The Gators are led by notorious hothead Tim Walton [brought to you by Natty Light. When you have nothing else to shotgun in your Hummer in the parking lot after getting ejected from a game, reach for a Natty Light.] He is in his 14th season in Gainesville with a 771-166 record. Florida won the WCWS under his guidance in 2014 and 2015. FUN FACT: In a former life, Walton was a pitcher for Oklahoma and earned the win in the Sooners’ 13–5 victory over Nomar Garciaparra/Jason Varitek-led Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the 1994 College World Series championship game.
As mentioned, Barnhill likely gets the start for Florida. It is difficult to know what is going on in Alabama coach Patrick Murphy’s head but my gut says he goes with Fouts. Other questions to ponder is whether he moves Elissa Brown back to the top of the order, and where will he bat Wallace who has had some luck against the Gators.
UCLA 6 Arizona 2 - F
Oklahoma 6 Oklahoma State 1 - F
Washington 5, Minnesota 3 - F