Florida earned the final Women's College World Series berth on Sunday thanks to a 2-1, eight-inning victory over SEC rival Tennessee in the Super Regional round. Jaimie Hoover smacked a walk-off single to plate Amanda Lorenz for the win:
Florida, which won the 2014 and 2015 titles, returns to the WCWS for the 10th time in 11 years.
Super Regional Results
No. 1 Oklahoma 2, No. 16 Northwestern 0
No. 2 UCLA 2, James Madison 0
No. 3 Washington 2, No, 14 Kentucky 0
No. 13 Oklahoma State 2, No. 4 Florida State 1
No. 5 Florida 2, No. 12 Tennessee 1
No. 6 Arizona 2, No. 11 Ole Miss 0
No. 7 Minnesota 2, No. 10 LSU 0
No. 8 Alabama 2, No. 9 Texas 1
Women's College World Series Schedule
Thursday, May 30
Game 1: No. 3 Washington vs. No. 6 Arizona: noon on ESPN
Game 2: No. 2 UCLA vs. No. 7 Minnesota: 2:30 p.m. on ESPN
Game 3: No. 5 Florida vs. No. 13 Oklahoma State: 7 p.m. on ESPN2
Game 4: No. 1 Oklahoma vs. No. 8 Alabama: 9:30 p.m. on ESPN2
Friday, May 31
Game 5: Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner: 7 p.m. on ESPN
Game 6: Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner: 9:30 p.m. on ESPN
Saturday, June 1
Game 7: Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser: noon on ESPN
Game 8: Game 3 loser vs. Game 4 loser: 2:30 p.m on ESPN
Game 9: Game 7 winner vs. Game 6 loser: 7 p.m. on ESPN
Game 10: Game 8 winner vs. Game 5 loser: 9:30 p.m. on ESPN
Sunday, June 2
Game 11: Game 5 winner vs. Game 9 winner: 1 p.m. on ESPN
Game 12: Game 6 winner vs. Game 10 winner: 3:30 p.m. on ESPN
Game 13 (if necessary): Game 11 teams: 7 p.m. on ESPN2
Game 14 (if necessary): Game 12 teams: 9:30 p.m. on ESPN2
Championship Finals (Best-Of-Three)
Game 1: Monday, June 3, at 7:30 on ESPN
Game 2: Tuesday, June 4, at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN
Game 3: Wednesday, June 5, at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN
*All times Eastern
No. 5 Florida vs. No. 13 Oklahoma State
Is OSU a team of destiny? Maybe.
The Oklahoma State Cowgirls took down the defending national champion Florida State Seminoles two games to one after a nail-biting 3-2 victory in Game 3.
The road doesn't get easier with a date against No. 5 Florida in the first round of the World Series, but there's reason to believe Oklahoma State can make some noise.
First, OSU is 18-4 in its last 22 games, with the only losses coming against No. 1 Oklahoma (three-game sweep) and FSU (in the Super Regional).
Second, Samantha Show is sometimes an unstoppable force. She led the team with 18 home runs, 54 RBI and a 1.141 OPS. On the mound, she's 21-8 with a 2.37 ERA.
The problem is Florida has a lights-out pitching staff that should give OSU problems.
Kelly Barnhill has been near-invincible this year, going 34-12 with a 1.45 ERA, 0.80 WHIP and 349 strikeouts in 279.1 innings. Elizabeth Hightower (4-1, 1.88 ERA) and Natalie Lugo (8-3, 2.04 ERA) aren't so bad either.
OSU is a great story, but Florida is a tough team to crack. Look for the Gators to win.
No. 1 Oklahoma vs. No. 8 Alabama
Here's a sample of some of the most eye-popping Oklahoma softball stats this season.
First, the Sooners are 54-3 with an 18-0 Big 12 record. If they run the table in the WCWS, they'll have the best record of any team since the 1994 Arizona Wildcats (64-3).
Second, the Sooners have amassed shutouts in six of their last seven games and eight of their last 11. They've allowed more than three runs just three times.
Third, OU leads Division I in the following categories: batting average, ERA, fielding percentage, home runs per game, scoring, slugging percentage and strikeout-to-walk ratio.
The bottom line is that it will be a monumental upset if OU doesn't win the WCWS, but No. 8 Alabama is impressive in its own right.
Catcher Bailey Hemphill is a game-breaking talent, smacking 25 home runs and earning a 1.370 OPS. She played 65 games and knocked in 78 runs. First-year pitcher Montana Fouts has been stout in her opening collegiate campaign, going 19-5 with a 1.44 ERA and 174 strikeouts in 160.2 innings.
However, OU is simply invincible right now, to the point where the Sooners could be among the best softball teams in the history of the game. Look for an OU win here.
No. 3 Washington vs. No. 6 Arizona
These two Pac-12 rivals meet again after Washington swept Arizona during the regular season by a combined score of 12-6 over three games.
Anything can happen in one game, of course, but it's hard to pick against Washington here.
The Huskies are on a roll as winners of their last 12 games and 28 of their last 29, including the Pac-12 title. Their lone loss was by one run to Utah.
The formula for the 50-7 team is pretty simple: On the mound, Washington has two dominant pitchers in Gabbie Plain and Taran Alvelo. Plain went 23-2 with a 1.14 ERA and 229 strikeouts in 172.2 innings, and Alvelo earned a 25-4 record with a 1.55 ERA and 268 punchouts in 185.0 frames.
At the dish, Morganne Flores is one of the game's most feared hitters, smacking 22 home runs and managing a 1.265 OPS. The Huskies had four players with a .400 OPS or better.
The Wildcats will put up a fight, of course, and they notably didn't lose any game to Washington by more than three. Four players hit 14 or more home runs, led by Jessie Harper's 28. Taylor McQuillin has also done quite well on the mound thanks to a 23-7 record, 1.52 ERA and 214 strikeouts.
The key will be whether the Arizona power bats can get the best of Washington's pitching. The guess here is that this one will be close, with the Huskies holding serve in the end.
No. 2 UCLA vs. No. 7 Minnesota
UCLA has hit .342 this year, with seven of its players hitting .305 or better this season. The team's two best hitters, Kelli Godin and Briana Perez, also combined to steal 44 bases.
The Bruins may have the deepest lineup top to bottom in Division I, and it also helps that ace pitcher Rachel Garcia went 24-1 with a 1.01 ERA.
The issue is that UCLA isn't coming into the World Series in the best of forms. The Bruins went 3-3 in their final six Pac-12 games (admittedly, two were versus No. 6 Arizona) and dropped one to unranked Missouri in the regionals.
Still, UCLA is a powerhouse at its best, and the team posted one of the most impressive series of the year when it swept Washington on the road by a 22-8 score in three games.
UCLA may get a stiff test versus No. 7 Minnesota, though, as the Golden Gophers are 20-2 in their last 22 games. They've waltzed through the NCAA tournament with a 5-0 record and have earned their first-ever WCWS berth in the process.
It helps to have a strikeout queen in Amber Fiser, who sat down 339 opponents in 250.1 innings en route to a 31-7 record and 1.17 ERA.
The Golden Gophers also have a dynamic power duo in their lineup in Hope Brandner and Natalie DenHartog. The two combined for 36 home runs and 122 RBI. MaKenna Partain is a tough out at the plate and on the bases with her .495 OBP and 13 stolen bases.
This could be the best game of the opening round, one that could go either way. In the end, let's go with an upset and take Minnesota to continue its dream season and send UCLA to the losers' bracket.