The moment Kayli Kvistad came up to the plate in the second inning, Huskies pitcher Taran Alvelo had reason to be worried.
After all, Kvistad had already hit a solo home run against her in the previous inning to kick start a hot Florida offense. And entering Sunday’s game, the junior was batting .385, recording a hit in each of the last four games.
So, to no surprise, Kvistad came up big once again.
With two on, she drove a hard-hit single up the middle to bring both teammates home and record her third RBI of the game.
The Gators gave themselves a sizable lead early on, one the Huskies never were able to overcome.
Florida defeated Washington 5-2 on Sunday afternoon in Oklahoma City to advance to the Women’s College World Series finals.
It will be the first time Florida has reached the finals since 2015, when they defeated Michigan and became national champions.
It is also the seventh consecutive year an SEC team will play in the championship three-game series.
Florida’s dominant offense has been a huge factor in Oklahoma City, as they’ve scored 20 runs over the span of three games.
And, once again, the powerful bats made an appearance Sunday.
Kvistad’s home run to right center field in the first inning set the tone early on.
With three more runs scored in the second inning, Washington was forced to make an early pitching change from Alvelo to Madi Schreyer.
The move ultimately silenced Florida’s bats for the remainder of the game as Schreyer allowed just a pair of hits and one run through her 4.2 innings of pitching.
But Delanie Gourley’s exceptional performance was the key factor in the victory.
Making her first career start at the Women’s College World Series, the senior was lights-out, recording 10 strikeouts and retiring 21 of the 25 batters she faced.
Her ERA of .62 is good for second-best in the country, sitting just behind fellow teammate Kelly Barnhill.
It looked like Gourley, a California native, would record her fourth one-hitter of the season. But with two outs, a fielding error from Kvistad at first base set up a two-run homer for Washington, ending Gourley’s opportunity at notching a shutout.
But now, she and the rest of her team will be playing in the championship series, something UF’s upperclassmen are no stranger to.
And with underclassmen like Amanda Lorenz and Kelly Barnhill, Florida gives itself a good opportunity to bring home another national title, its third in program history.
The first game of the series will be played Monday evening at 7 p.m. against either Oregon or Oklahoma.