Three games into the Women’s College World Series, the Florida Gators have secured the right to play as many as three more.
Given how untouchable the Gators have looked, they might only need two to win another national championship.
Florida nearly scored a third straight shutout on Sunday against Washington in the so-called “2-0, 2-1” game, eliminating the Huskies and moving on to the championship series for the fifth time since 2009 with a 5-2 triumph.
And it was scarcely less impressive than the Gators’ previous two swampings of foes in Oklahoma City.
This time, the runs came mostly early, instead of early and often. Florida pounced on Washington’s Taran Alvelo in the first and second innings, with Kayli Kvistad dusting one of her pitches for a solo home run in the game’s second plate appearance and Amanda Lorenz and Kvistad rapping RBI singles in the second frame.
Alvelo exited with a 4-0 deficit after carrying Washington to this point in Oklahoma City, and the Huskies turned to Madi Schreyer, who escaped the second without further incident. She would give up just one run over her 4.2 innings, on a Janell Wheaton single in the fourth.
All the necessary damage was already done.
This time, it was Delanie Gourley on the mound, not Kelly Barnhill, and the domination of the opposing hitters had far more to do with legerdemain than legendary stuff. Gourley tied the Huskies in knots with her mix of locations and speeds, getting most of her 10 strikeouts with a merciless change-up and allowing just one hit — on a bunt single — over the first 20 outs of her complete game.
The second hit, a two-run homer by Julia DePonte set up by a Kvistad error that extended the game, was inarguably the biggest swing Florida has allowed in Oklahoma City, and the one that prevented Florida from entering the championship series with a staggering 20-0 run differential through the first three games of this Women’s College World Series.
It barely shook Gourley, who induced a grounder to Kvistad to end the game — and finish piloting her team to a chance at a third national title in four years.
And through three games, Florida has scored more runs and allowed fewer runs than any other team in Oklahoma City — and has only allowed runs based on a failure to field the 21st out at first base.
The Gators will meet either Oklahoma or Oregon in the championship series beginning on Monday. Whichever team lines up against Florida in Oklahoma City on that night ought to be ready: This team, at this moment, looks like the perfect storm.