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Women’s College World Series open thread: Gators open with Aggies

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Florida is making its eighth appearance at the event.

The No. 1 overall seed Florida Gators begin their Women’s College World Series journey today, taking on No. 9 Texas A& M in the opening game of the event, airing at 12:00 p.m., noon, on ESPN.

The two programs are meeting for only the 17th time today, with Florida holding a 12-4 advantage in the all-time series. The Gators and Aggies are facing each other for the second time at a WCWS. Texas A&M eliminated Florida in the semifinal round in a nine-inning contest in 2008.

Joining UF in the Women’s College World Series are the aforementioned Aggies, LSU, UCLA, Oregon, Washington, Oklahoma, and Baylor. Florida’s side of the bracket contains Texas A&M, UCLA, and LSU. The only one of those teams the Gators met thus far this season is UCLA. Florida bested the Bruins, 9-4, in March’s Judi Garman Classic.

The Gators are making their eighth appearance in the Women’s College World Series, having won it all in 2014 and 2015. Since 2007, Florida is the winningest NCAA Division I softball program, holding a 620-111 overall record.

Florida is fortunate to be led by the pitching trio of 2017 USA Collegiate Softball Player of the Year Kelly Barnhill, Delanie Gourley, and Aleshia Ocasio. All three Gators rank inside the top-ten nationally in ERA. Today’s game will mark Barnhill’s WCWS debut. Florida‘s path to a potential third championship will be paved by the Gators’ powerful pitching staff.

At the plate, Florida will count on Amanda Lorenz, Kayli Kvistad, Nicole DeWitt, and Ocasio. Lorenz leads the Gators with a .390 batting average and 11 home runs on the year, including a big two-run homer against Alabama in Super Regional play.

Boasting a 55-8 record so far on the year, the Gators went 24-6 against top-25 competition this season - with 17 shutouts among those wins. Florida also held seven of those opponents to less than one run, so the Gators have held 24 of their 29 ranked opponents to one run or less.

Speaking of shutouts, Florida leads the nation with 38 shutouts on the season, with Barnhill and Gourley sporting 12 apiece. The Gators are just one shutout away from tying the program record of 39, which was set in 2009.

The winner of today’s game between the Gators and Aggies will face the winner of today’s match-up between No. 5 UCLA and No. 13 LSU. That contest will be played tomorrow, June 2, at 7:00 p.m., and also air on ESPN.

The losers of both of today’s games will play each other on Saturday, June 3, at 12:00 p.m., in the elimination bracket, also on ESPN.

You can find the full bracket and game times here.