Florida played a thriller on Saturday night at the Women's College World Series, taking about five hours to finally vanquish Nebraska after midnight on the East Coast. On Saturday, Texas whisked the Gators out of the 2013 WCWS, winning a brisk matinee matchup 3-0 behind ace Blaire Luna.
Luna controlled the game for Texas, mixing speeds and superior riseballs and dropballs to keep Florida off-balance and swinging. She racked up 14 strikeouts on the day, and 13 in the first six innings, while yielding only one hit. Five walks and two hit batters made up the majority of Florida's offense on the day, and the Gators loaded the bases in the bottom of the third inning, but Lauren Haeger struck out to end that threat, and Florida wouldn't put another runner on third all afternoon.
What the Gators did do well was largely on defense and the mound, where sound play backed up Hannah Rogers, who struggled to avoid contact for the third straight time in this WCWS. Rogers would persevere despite that, allowing all of Texas' runs on a third-inning homer by Kim Bruins that hit the tip of Briana Little's glove in left field. Little, all of 5'4", didn't jump on the play, and might have been able to bring in the ball had she done so, but that was the only major defensive mistake for Florida, with an Aubree Munro throwing error putting a runner on third in the second inning.
The loss marks the end of a sensational season for Florida, which rebounded from a disastrous end to its 2012 campaign by installing a youth movement and roaring through the SEC in 2013. The Gators will lose seniors Kelsey Horton and Ensley Gammel from this team, but Horton is the only starter departing, and a host of freshmen and sophomores now have the experience of a deep postseason run on their résumés.
Florida will be back to Oklahoma City, and probably in 2014. This exit was just the prelude for a team that seems destined to make much more noise.