#8-seed Alabama 15, #5-seed Florida 3
Like dangling a steak in front of a hungry lion, Alabama was left chomping at the bit to unleash their hellfire because of a three-hour weather delay. Once Washington finished off 7-seed Minnesota, the Crimson Tide pounced and ripped their foe to shreds.
Bama did not waste time getting going, roughing up Gators ace Kelly Barnhill for six runs in the first headlined by a pair of three-run dingers by Kaylee Tow and Merris Schroder.
Barnhill was not able to get the third out of the inning and was lifted for Elizabeth Hightower. Bama went scoreles in the second but then amped it up again, scoring four in the third and another five in the fourth to build a 15-0 lead.
Bailey Hemphill made it a trio of three-run home runs when she sent one deep in the fourth inning to break the Alabama single season home runs and RBI records at 26 and 82.
In the circle was Sarah Cornell who was mowing Gator batters down until she got to the fifth inning and either psyched herself out or just ran out of gas, but surrendered a pair of home runs to make the blowout a little more respectable for UF. As disappointing as it may be to not get the shutout, it may benefit the Tide to have a little adversity to keep them from getting complacent heading into the next game.
The Crimson Tide collected 12 hits including three home runs and three doubles. Six different Bama players had RBIs and 11 different players scored runs. That is NOT a typo.
The defeat was the last college game for Florida greats Amanda Lorenz and Barnhill. You may feel tempted to feel sorry for the Gators but just remind yourself - it’s Florida.
The win over Florida had to have been sweet for the Tide. After Bama swept UF on the road in the regular season and then found themselves seeded three notches below their SEC rival, trouncing and eliminating has to be satisfying. Another team seeded above Alabama who they beat in the regular season, Minnesota, was eliminated earlier in the day without winning a game in Oklahoma City. Which bring us to the next foe.
Alabama meets 6-seed Arizona. Yes, they plan on playing this game tonight, Saturday. The first pitch will come 30 minutes following the finish of Washington and Oklahoma State, which will mean the Bama-Az game will end past midnight.
These two teams played in February with the Tide getting the best of the Cats 6-1 in Tucson. Montana Fouts had 8 strikeouts, no walks and only gave up an unearned run in that game. Tide senior pinch-hitter extraordinaire Caroline Hardy hit a home run in the 7th inning of that game.
‘Zona is not shy about swinging for the fences. Jessie Harper leads the team with 29 round-trippers and 69 runners knocked in. Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza is hitting .392 with 19 home runs and 66 RBI. Dejah Mulipola has 23 and 55. Reyna Carranco is hitting .411 but has only 5 round-trippers.
Being an elimination game for both teams, Arizona might be tempted to go with their ace, Taylor McQuillin (24-8, 1.55 ERA) who has pitched the last two game - a win over Washington Thursday and a loss to UCLA Friday - and has 203 innings pitched under her belt this season. Alyssa Denham (11-5, 1.86 ERA) has thrown almost half that amount at 105.1. She pitched to one batter against UCLA. Her previous appearance was against Ole Miss on May 25. No other Wildcats have thrown more than 32 innings.
Fouts will undoubtedly get the start for Alabama, unless coach Patrick Murphy sees a better matchup with Krystal Goodman. To be honest, your guess is as good as mine at this point. #InMurphWeTrust
Mike Candrea is in his 32nd season as the head coach of Arizona. That is longer than most schools have even fielded a team including Alabama whose first team came in 1997, eleven years after Candrea made his debut in Tuscon. His teams have won eight Women’s College World Series (1991, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 2001, 2006, 2007).