Florida blasts Oklahoma with home runs to force WCWS elimination game

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For the third time this season, Florida softball played an elimination game.

And for the third time, the Gators emerged victorious.

Florida is now one win away from the Women’s College World Series championship round after defeating three-time defending national champion Oklahoma, 9-3, Monday afternoon at Devon Park in Oklahoma City.

The win was Keagan Rothrock’s 33rd of the season and Florida’s 54th in total. It also ended Oklahoma’s 20 game win streak in the NCAA softball tournament. The Sooners last lost in the postseason in 2022 in the WCWS against UCLA.

After a slow start in Oklahoma City, Florida’s offense awoke Sunday vs Alabama with a six-run, 10-hit outing against Crimson Tide to reach the semifinal round.

Monday, that offense did more of the same.

It’s hard to quantify all the ways Florida’s offense exploded, so let’s summarize:

The Gators scored runs in every inning besides the sixth, when the lead was well in hand.

Reagan Walsh and Skylar Wallace served as dual engines.

Walsh, the California native, drove in Florida’s first run in the first inning. She then blasted a three-run homer in the fourth. That home run put the Gators up 7-1.

Wallace, who had struggled at the WCWS compared to her hitting last month, exploded Monday. She homered in the second to dead center. Four innings later, she bombed it to nearly the same spot to give Florida a six-run lead and give Rothrock some much needed breathing room.

The Gators also got a third inning RBI double from Ava Brown, her first in the WCWS, and an inside the park home run from Kendra Falby.

Falby, who hit in the nine spot Monday, garnered the first inside the parker at the WCWS since 2014. She went 2-3 at the plate, her first multi-hit game since May 5 vs Texas A&M, which was UF’s last regular season game. She also snagged a ball in center field early in the game that took the wind out of the sails of Oklahoma.

In the circle, Rothrock’s showing was like Sunday. It was not her best, but she contained a lethal Oklahoma offense to just three runs and did more than enough to keep the lead.

As has become the norm, she escaped numerous jams.

This post appeared first on USA TODAY