With a 1-0 win over Kentucky in Game 2 of the teams' Super Regional on Sunday in Gainesville, the Florida Gators are headed back to the Women's College World Series.
Justine McLean slapped an RBI single in the fourth inning and Lauren Haeger threw her second shutout in as many days to lift No. 1 Florida over the Wildcats, completing a 5-0 sweep through the Gainesville Regional and Gainesville Super Regional over the past two weekends.
Florida's exceptional defense helped keep Kentucky at bay and preserve its lead on Sunday. McLean made a tough catch at the wall in right and doubled off a runner at first in the bottom of the third inning, and catcher Aubree Munro laid out to catch a bunt and doubled off a runner of her own in the bottom of the fourth.
Florida previously defeated Kentucky 7-0 on Saturday in the first game of the Super Regional, with Haeger shutting out the Wildcats and chipping in a home run at the plate.
For Florida, this will be the seventh trip to Oklahoma City for the Women's College World Series in the last eight seasons; the Gators' last miss came in 2012, when Florida was surprisingly ousted from postseason play in the Gainesville Regional. And for the first time, Florida will arrive in Oklahoma City as the defending national champions, having topped Alabama for the program's first title in 2015.
Florida will see a slew of familiar faces in Oklahoma City. The Gators have faced four of the five other teams (Alabama, Michigan, Oregon, and Tennessee) that already have berths in the Women's College World Series this season, will have played at least five thanks to LSU and Arizona dueling for one spot, and could potentially have played six of the seven other WCWS entrants if Missouri (down 0-1) downs UCLA to advance to Oklahoma City.
Florida's victory on Sunday also guarantees that the SEC will have at least half of the WCWS field: The Gators join Auburn, Alabama, and Tennessee in emerging from Super Regional play.