When Florida lost in the 2008 Women's College World Series, there was disappointment (they were the top seed) but a sense of greater things to come (they had only one senior). Today, the No. 1 Gators (60-3) begin their chance to overcome last season's loss, opening play against No. 9 Arizona (46-15). The Wildcats have won eight championships, including back-to-back titles in 2006-07. UCLA has the most with 10 championships.
Arizona also represents another barrier in Florida's way; the West's dominance of the Women's College World Series. Only three schools west of the Mississippi River have gotten to the finals, with 2005 Michigan being the only winner. Tennessee's great 2007 team, with Olympian pitcher Monica Abbott, was knocked out by Arizona in three games. The Best Dressed Women In Gainesville have 10 players from out West, including four of the five UF players named to the All-American First and Second teams. I can't tell you why the Pac-10 dominates (defending champion Arizona State is also in OKC), but you'd think Florida's Western vibe is an advantage.
Florida plays at 9pm EDT. Their side of the bracket also includes No. 4 Alabama (52-9, the only SEC team to defeat UF in 2009) and No. 5 Michigan (46-10).