When the liner sailed over Kim Waleszonia’s glove and Virginia Tech had the winning run 60 feet away, it looked like UF’s quest for a National Championship would die an embarrassing death, complete with a Bill Buckner-level goat. But UF rose up, turned a nifty double play, and senior Mary Ratliff (with ESPN catching her Mom saying, “Don’t you dare strike out!” in a Southern twang) knocked in two in the 9th, and UF defeated Tech 2-0. A few hours later, UCLA was the victim, falling 2-0 to another dominant pitching performance by Stacey Nelson.
The No. 1 Gators are now 2-1, with unblemished No. 5 Texas A&M coming this afternoon (first game at 1pm). The Gators will have to win two games to eliminate the Aggies and get to the Championship Series.
One of the story lines following this team has been their relative youth. While it was poetic for Ratliff to get the winning RBIs, it’s been juniors like Nelson and sophomores like Francesca Enea (3-7, RBI, run in Saturday’s games) who has led the Gators. And they all remember last season getting swept in the Super Regionals by Texas A&M. That could be the key today.
Gators Softball has only been around since 1997, so it is accurate to say today’s game(s) will be the most important in program history.