Florida vs. Alabama, Game 2, open thread: The Gators can take a title tonight

Rich DeCray

Florida's never been here before. But Alabama has. Will that matter?

I know that we're all still awash in the magic of this Florida softball run. I know that we think Florida's the better team in this Women's College World Series championship series with Alabama — and that the Gators might be the best team in the country — because of Hannah Rogers's dominance and the Florida offense's unrelenting attack and the Gators defense's impregnability. I know we hope Florida will win tonight (8 p.m., ESPN or WatchESPN), and I'm pretty sure that we also believe Florida will win tonight.

I also know that Florida's never been one win from a national championship before — but that Alabama's been one loss from a crushing defeat in the WCWS finals before, and that the Crimson Tide rolled off two wins and won it all when they were.

It wasn't that long ago, even: It happened in 2012, when Alabama dropped its first game to Oklahoma by a 4-1 count. Jackie Traina was tagged for 11 hits and all four runs in that game, and Keilani Ricketts dominated the Tide bats; Alabama even gave up its 1-0 lead over the final three innings of play. For a team in its first championship series, it was a disheartening start.

But Alabama battled back in Game 2 of that series, rattling off two four-run innings and withstanding a seventh-inning charge by the Sooners for an 8-6 victory.

And then, in the championship game, the Tide won one of the truly great games in the sport's history, earning an absurdly dramatic 5-4 triumph by rallying from a 3-0 deficit and holding off Oklahoma in the seventh inning once more, all in in a contest that was twice delayed by weather, and ended up concluding after midnight.

Florida's job is to prevent the Tide from turning it all around again. And Florida's been better in this NCAA Tournament and Women's College World Series than Oklahoma was in that one, so there's good reason to believe the Gators can do that.

I just don't want to get too far ahead of myself until they've actually done it.

Go Gators. Prove my fears wrong, like you have all year.

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