When the Florida Gators finished their 9-0 win over Tennessee in Knoxville on Saturday, they knew they owned at least a share of their third consecutive SEC regular-season championship in softball.
Less than an hour later, that crown was theirs alone.
The Gators’ thumping of the Vols — Florida’s nine runs were its most since a 9-1 win over UCF in a midweek contest on April 19, and its most in SEC play since plating 13 and 10 runs in consecutive games against South Carolina in mid-March — boosted Florida to 20-2 in SEC play, making it impossible for the Gators to be overtaken by any team in the league, and leaving Texas A&M as the only team that could tie the Gators by winning out.
Then the Aggies lost their Saturday contest with Kentucky, dropping to 15-4 on the year and making the Gators mathematically uncatchable.
Florida finishes its SEC slate on Sunday with a final game against Tennessee, then returns to the Sunshine State for a midweek showdown with Florida State and a final homestand against North Texas prior to the SEC Tournament. The league’s unbalanced schedule is thanks to only 13 SEC programs fielding softball teams, with Vanderbilt the lone school without one.
Florida has come to dominate the potent and still-rising SEC in softball, winning the last three SEC regular-season championships, four of the last five, and six since 2008. And while the Gators have not won the SEC Tournament since 2013, their back-to-back national titles in the sport in 2014 and 2015 came despite early exits in that event.