Florida knocked off Tennessee in their decisive Game 3 to advance to the Women’s College World Series.
The intensely combative three-game series in Gainesville came to a dramatic conclusion on Sunday. Jaimie Hoover shot a single to left center that brought Amanda Lorenz around to score the game-winning run and send the Gators to OKC. It simultaneously ended a tremendously successful season for Tennessee, although they will certainly have a bittersweet taste in their mouths for some time after this.
Florida had gotten out to an early lead thanks to Sophia Reynoso. Reynoso singled to right center field to bring the aforementioned Lorenz around to score after she’d started things off with a leadoff walk. Reynoso’s single came with two outs in the inning after a strikeout by the eventual hero in Hoover.
Thanks in part to the pitching of Kelly Barnhill, the Gators maintained their 1-0 lead for a long time. That is until the top of the 7th. Haley Bearden led off the inning with a dramatic solo home run that tied the game at one run apiece. Barnhill picked up the pieces after and got Ashley Morgan, Cailin Hannon and Kaitlin Parsons out. But obviously, it was too little, too late. In the bottom frame, Ashley Rogers got Cheyenne Lindsey, Jade Caraway and Hannah Sipos out 1-2-3 to send it into extras.
Tennessee wasn’t able to capitalize with their set of extra lives, however. Madison Pacini, Jenna Holcomb and Aubrey Leach went 1-2-3 to take the game to the bottom of the 8th. Lorenz started things off with a double that put Rogers and the Vols on their heels immediately. Kendyl Lindaman was intentionally walked, and a Hannah Adams groundout sent the runners to 3rd and 2nd. Hoover, of course, then stepped up and created the game-winning hit, ending things dramatically.
Florida now heads to the Women’s College World Series, which will begin on Thursday. They are one of two SEC teams playing for a National Championship, joining the Alabama Crimson Tide. They’re both in the same bracket, along with Oklahoma State and powerhouse Oklahoma. The other bracket, of course, features Arizona, Minnesota, Washington and UCLA.
A lot of fun is to be had later this week. But Sunday, and this entire series, was certainly quite the treat, too.