Moments after Delaney Gourley allowed a two run homer in the bottom of the seventh inning in the national semifinal against Washington, she smiled at the camera. The homer proved that despite mowing down their competition by near record proportions at the Women’s College World Series, the Florida Gators- and Gourley- were indeed human. And the smile proved that Gourley was still in command.
Then Gourley did what she’d been doing all day one last time and got the final out of the game.
Back to the national championship series go the Gators, for the third time in the last four years and the fifth in the last nine years. The last two times Florida went there- both of which Gourley was a part of- they won it all. And they appear to be as sure a bet to do it again as could be.
Like they did against LSU and Texas A&M, Florida jumped on Washington early and never let them get into the flow of the game. Kayli Kvistad cranked a solo homer in the first inning, and in her next at bat drove in two more with an RBI single. In between her run scoring hits, Amanda Lorenz drove in a run of her own with a single to center. Just for good measure, Janell Wheaton brought home another run in the fifth with an RBI single to center.
And as Kelly Barnhill did to A&M and LSU, Gourley silenced the Huskies’ powerful offense for all seven innings, striking out ten and only allowing two hits. The homer Gourley gave up came after an error by Kvistad with two outs, which means that she didn’t give up an earned run- and neither has Florida in the WCWS thus far.
Now, Florida will meet Oklahoma for the national championship, as they did nine years ago on the football field. The two softball programs have combined to each of the last four national championships, with Oklahoma winning in 2013 and 2016 and Florida going back to back in 2014 and 2015. So this two out of three series is for more than just a national championship. It’s for the title of dynasty.
And for a team that may just be the best of all time, these Gators wouldn’t have it any other way.