Softball

W2W4: WCWS Preview and Prediction

Photo by Brian Fox / ChompTalk.com

Just a few weeks ago few thought the Gators softball team would be in this situation. Florida had just slumped their way to a .500 record in conference play and were forced to play on day one of the SEC Tournament.

The ride that ensued was exciting, if not unexpected. A come from behind victory over South Carolina to open the SEC Tournament seems to have turned the entire season around.

Even the players on the team talked about how much more special this trip to Oklahoma City is thanks to the struggles of the lineup, and even the pitching staff at certain points.

The Gators have essentially thrown only one pitcher since game two of the SEC Tournament. Kelly Barnhill has been the workhorse, but also claims that she prefers it that way.

And while the team has had issues with situational hitting all year, it’s almost fitting that Florida advanced on a walk-off single by Jaimie Hoover.

Here we are, again. The Gators are amongst the final eight teams at the College World Series for the tenth time in the last twelve seasons.

Teams:

  • 1. Oklahoma: 54-3
  • 2. UCLA: 51-6
  • 3. Washington: 50-7
  • 5. Florida: 49-16
  • 6. Arizona: 46-12
  • 7. Minnesota: 46-12
  • 8. Alabama: 57-8
  • 13. Oklahoma State: 43-15

First up: Oklahoma State

These two programs actually met in the 2017 Gainesville Regional. In three games that weekend, Florida topped the Cowgirls twice to advance to Supers. The Gators won the first matchup in the winner’s bracket 2-0, but dropped the first matchup of the regional final 1-0. The Gators secured the Super Regional berth with a 5-0 victory in the finale.

TEAM Oklahoma State Florida
Batting Average .292 (55) .264 (179)
Home Runs 80 (9) 52 (47)
ERA 2.75 (62) 1.75 (12)
Fielding % .970 (36) .987 (1)

Oklahoma State will likely rely on a relatively familiar face in the circle and at the dish. Samantha Show, a senior transfer from Texas A&M, leads the Cowgirls in home runs and RBIs and also owns the lowest ERA on the OSU pitching staff. Show has a 2.37 ERA and started 30 games this season.

Rylee Bayless will likely lead off the order for Oklahoma State. She sported a .316 average and showed some pop to the tune of eight homers. Michaela Richbourg and Chyenne Factor protect Show in the lineup and have combined to smack twenty three homers on the year.

The catalyst to the OSU lineup, however, is three-hole hitter Madi Sue Montgomery. The senior second baseman has hit at a team high .353 clip and reaches base at a .442 mark.

OSU lineup last time out:

  1. OF Rylee Bayless
  2. P Samantha Show
  3. 2B Madi Sue Montgomery
  4. 1B Michaela Richbourg
  5. OF Chyenne Factor
  6. SS Kiley Naomi
  7. 3B Sidney Pennington
  8. DP Taylor Lynch
  9. OF Chelsea Alexander
  10. C Raquel Dominguez

While Oklahoma State may be the lowest seed remaining, they shouldn’t be taken lightly, just ask the defending National Champions in Tallahassee (who were eliminated by the Cowgirls in Super Regional play).

The Bracket:

First pitch from Oklahoma City is set to take place at 7:00 PM eastern time. The game will air live on ESPN2.

Prediction:

Florida should get by Oklahoma State despite the obvious home field advantage the Cowgirls will enjoy. Florida has a team full of WCWS experience, something OSU doesn’t (first WCWS appearance since 2011).

The Gators will likely have to face Oklahoma in the second round. That’s a matchup nightmare for Florida. The Sooners won 41 straight before being defeated in regional play.

From there, the Gators will likely face the winner of Arizona and Minnesota (in the loser’s bracket). While the Golden Gophers are a fresh face to the field, it’s unlikely they could advance past the Wildcats. A matchup with Minnesota would be fun as Kendyl Lindaman transferred to Florida from Minnesota this season. Kelly Barnhill would have to be at her best to be able to keep a slugging Wildcats teams’ bats asleep.

If the Gators can get past Arizona, they will likely play another PAC-12 program and the winner of UCLA and Washington. This is likely the end of the road for Florida. Both teams are extremely talented and deep and are legitimate threats to the National Title.

Note: Florida very well could compete for the Natty. Led by Amanda Lorenz and Kelly Barnhill this team won’t back down.

Final prediction: Oklahoma over Washington. The Sooners are the best team in the country. Oklahoma has three pitchers with a 1.11 ERA or better and lead the nation in home runs and batting average.

Washington may be the hottest team in the country and are one of three (Arizona, Minnesota) teams in OKC that haven’t lost in post-season play.

What do you think will happen in OKC this year?

Categories: Softball, Spring Sports

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