The 14-seeded Florida Gators (49-17) may have to deal with a partisan crowd in Oklahoma City when they face seventh-seeded Oklahoma State (47-12) on Saturday.
The Cowgirls, playing an hour away from their home in Stillwater, beat Arizona (38-21) 4-2 on Thursday. The Gators defeated Oregon State (39-21) 7-1 to secure a spot in this weekend’s matchup.
Oklahoma State is led by former Florida assistant Kenny Gajewski, who served on Tim Walton’s staff from 2013-15. The pair also played together on Oklahoma’s 1994 National Championship team.
Climbing the Mountain
Florida has won each of its last three games by 5 runs or more. Senior Charla Echols burned the Beavers Thursday, recording a triple and sending another pitch over the fence. The Newman, GA product rides a six-game hitting streak into Saturday’s tilt.
The team will also hope for continued production from sophomore Avery Goelz, who went 2-for-3 while driving in three of Florida’s 7 runs against Oregon State.
Pitcher Natalie Lugo has also been stellar for the Gators, pitching six shutout innings and striking out 6 on Thursday. Head coach Tim Walton has pitched a combination of Lugo and freshman Lexie Delbrey for each of the last three games.
The Gators will continue to push toward the program’s third national championship and its seventh title appearance. Florida won back-to-back championships in 2014-15 before finishing as the tournament’s runner-up in 2017.
No Runs for You
Oklahoma State, winners of nine straight games, have won four of their last five contests by three runs or fewer. And if pitchers were painters, redshirt junior Kelly Maxwell (19-4) would be playing Picasso. The Friendswood, TX native has been lights out.
In her last three appearances, Maxwell has recorded 30 strikeouts to go with two complete games and one save. She fanned 14 during the team’s most recent victory. Maxwell was just as impressive during the regional tournament, registering 15 strikeouts in a two-hit shutout against North Texas (37-16).
Graduate transfer Miranda Elish will look to extend a 5 game hitting streak against the Gators. She went 2-2 with a double and scored a run against Arizona.
The Cowgirls will also look for production from junior Karli Petty, whose three-run home run gave the team the lead on Thursday.
Oklahoma State hopes to reach the tournament’s final for the first time in program history.
Saturday’s winner will advance to the tournament’s semifinal, while the loser will play Oregon State and Arizona’s winner.