A funny thing happened to the Florida Gators Women’s Softball Team on their way to the Women’s College World Series where they would be the number one seed trying for a third straight national championship. They forgot there were two more games to win at home against the Georgia Bulldogs.
After being blanked 3-0 in Game One, the Gators came out in Game Two facing elimination and having to bat first even though they were in their home park. One would not expect a two-time champion to have the jitters, but they clearly did as they misplayed several balls early in the game. In the first inning the catcher, Aubry Munroe settled under a pop up but was hit in the back by the third baseman who was trying to catch the ball. The two collided and the ball dropped. That was shortly after their shortstop booted a potential double play ball. Pitcher Aleshia Ocasio got out of that inning without a run scoring.
But in the second inning, the third baseman and shortstop both let a Katie Brown pop up fall in and roll foul. Given new life, Brown hit the next pitch over the left field fence for a 1-0 Georgia lead.
Florida rallied for two runs in the fourth inning when Georgia pitcher Chelsea Wilkinson, who pitched the Game One shutout, hit two consecutive batters with the bases loaded to give Florida a 2-1 lead. They took that lead into the bottom of the seventh and retired the first Georgia hitter. But the next Georgia hitter chopped a grounder to short and Florida’s shortstop’s throw was a bit high, causing first baseman Taylor Schwarz to leave her feet. Replay showed she got her foot back down just ahead of the runner, but the call was safe.
After the next hitter was retired on a soft liner, Georgia went to the bench for a pinch hitter. Kaylee Puailoa. She got down to Ocasio 0-2 but then hammered a high fast ball over the center field wall to put Georgia into the Women’s College World Series and send the Gator faithful who had been on their feet cheering for that final strike, home is disbelief.
So many times Georgia has ruined Florida’s championship dreams in many sports (mostly football). For this reason, Georgia is Florida’s biggest rival. This could not have gone any worse for the softball team in Orange and Blue. They not only lost to their arch rivals, but they were one strike away from forcing a deciding game. This could bring softball into the famed Georgia-Florida rivalry for years to come.