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Women’s College World Series open thread: Florida meets Washington again

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Florida meets an old foe in OKC.

n old
@GatorsSB

After earning Saturday off, the Florida Gators resume play at the 2017 Women’s College World Series on Sunday, as No. 1 seed Florida faces No. 6 seed Washington at 1:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.

Florida enters the game 2-0 in Oklahoma City, having run-ruled Texas A&M on Thursday and mauled LSU 7-0 on Friday. Washington is 2-1, with the Huskies bouncing back from a winners’ bracket loss to Oklahoma on Friday to edge UCLA in an elimination game on Saturday and earn passage to face the Gators.

Florida’s pitching has been brilliant at the WCWS, with Kelly Barnhill throwing all but one of the innings for the Gators thus far. But its offense has been the pleasant or fearsome surprise of the tournament, depending on your perspective: After mustering just five runs in the Gainesville Super Regional, Florida has scored 15 runs in two games in Oklahoma City, more than any other team has tallied — even though four teams have played three games to the Gators’ two.

Florida’s production stands in particularly sharp contrast to Washington’s. The Huskies have just five runs in three games in Oklahoma City, by far the fewest of any team left alive, and have scored more than one run just once in three tries, with four of those five runs coming on homers. If Florida can build a large lead early, Washington appears particularly ill-equipped to come back; on the flip side, the Huskies could erase or shrink a lead with one big swing.

Florida and Washington have met at the Women’s College World Series before. In 2009, Florida made the event’s championship series for the first time, and faced off against legendary Huskies hurler Danielle Lawrie in that round. Lawrie shut out Florida, 8-0, in the first game of that series, and then outdueled Gators great Stacey Nelson in a 3-2 Game 2 that clinched Washington’s first national title.

Since that game, Florida has returned to the championship series three times, winning two national titles. Washington, on the other hand, has not played for one.

With a victory, Florida would make its fourth return. The Huskies could force a decisive elimination game at 7 p.m. on Sunday with a victory of their own.

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