Florida's surprising stick-and-ball team won its Saturday game with smallball.
That's not really Florida softball's style, as its 9-0 stomping of Washington in the opening game of the Gainesville Super Regional proved.
This one was over early, and not just because Florida scored in the second and third innings before a seven-run avalanche in the fourth that set up the five-inning, run-rule victory. The Gators had eight hits and drew seven walks; Washington had just six base-runners on the day, combining four hits against Hannah Rogers with two walks issued by her, and got nothing more than a single.
That seven-run fourth was especially withering for Washington, which likely enjoyed the 90-degree heat in Gainesville somewhat less than the Gators did. Florida scored runs on a sacrifice fly, a single, a suicide squeeze that still got Bailey Castro to first, two walks with the bases loaded, and another single. This was Florida tallying runs without the homers that it often gets as backbreakers from Lauren Haeger and Stephanie Tofft and Castro, and doing so with ease against a very good team.
Florida has looked great like this against very good teams before this season, especially over a non-conference schedule that included wins over Oregon and Michigan, and in the second game of a split home-and-home with Florida State, which has already earned its way to Oklahoma City and the 2014 Women's College World Series. But the Gators have rarely sustained greatness as well as they have in the NCAA Tournament so far, rolling up a massive 38-0 advantage on the four teams they have faced and shining on the mound, in the field, and at the plate.
There's no truly dominant team in softball this year, just a field with several potentially great teams that could become champions with a hot week in Oklahoma City. Florida is very much in that conversation.
And with a Sunday win over Washington as resounding as its Saturday triumph, the Gators will certainly factor in the WCWS conversation — and may get to be the first team mentioned.