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Women’s College World Series open thread: Gators tussle with Tigers

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Florida faces an SEC foe.

The Florida Gators softball team continues their run in their eighth Women’s College World Series tonight. Top-seeded Florida faces No. 13 seed LSU tonight, at 7:00 p.m., on ESPN.

LSU comes to meet the Gators after defeating No. 5 seed UCLA, 2-1, in their Thursday opener. Former Florida pitcher Beth Torina coaches the Tigers, who are making their third straight appearance in the WCWS.

The Gators opened WCWS action with an impressive offensive showing. Florida run-ruled Texas A&M for a 8-0 victory. That marked UF’s first run-rule outcome in the WCWS since a 2014 crushing of Baylor, 11-0, on their way to their first national title.

Though the Gators are feared for their proficient pitching staff, Florida’s bats were the stars of that particular show. Florida was on the board in the first after a Janell Wheaton single knocked in two runners. In the second, the Gators scored two more on a single by Nicole DeWitt. Aleshia Ocasio hit a three-run homer in the fourth.

Florida’s potent offensive output should take nothing away from their stellar pitching and defense though. Kelly Barnhill and Delanie Gourley teamed up for the four-hit shutout against the Aggies - giving this team a program-record tying 39 shutouts on the season. Those 39 shutouts also lead the nation.

Gourley relieved Barnhill yesterday, tossing a perfect fifth inning to end the game. Gourley has now thrown 20 scoreless innings in the NCAA Tournament; giving up just six hits and four walks in that span, while striking out 28 batters.

Though the Gators and Tigers are conference foes, the two programs will meet for the first time this season tonight. Florida is 27-32 all-time against LSU, but the Gators have a 7-3 record in their last ten meetings with the Tigers, dating back to 2014. One of those wins was a 4-0 victory in the 2015 WCWS.

Should Florida emerge victorious this evening, the Gators would be one win away from the WCWS championship series. Florida would play that deciding game on Sunday, at 1:00 p.m.

If the Gators drop tonight’s contest, they would play Saturday in an elimination game at 9:30 p.m., facing the winner of a loser bracket contest held earlier that day between Oregon and Baylor.

Full Women’s College World Series bracket information and times can be found here.