As the Gators showed life in the top of the seventh, a pop fly from redshirt junior Bryn Thomas went toward foul territory. An Oklahoma State Cowgirl was there to field it, sending the Gators to the loser’s bracket.
Florida played its second game in the Women’s College World Series against the Oklahoma State Cowgirls Saturday. After its 7-1 win against the Oregon State Beavers Thursday, the journey only got harder as the Cowgirls pitched a shutout against the Gators, putting Florida’s chances of advancing in jeopardy.
Freshman Lexie Delbrey kept Florida in the game through the first two innings after a rough start at bat, collecting a strikeout from the circle.The right-handed pitcher from Bainbridge, Georgia allowed one run in 1.1 innings in her last outing Thursday.
Freshman Kendra Falby was the only Gator to get on base early, bunting for a single.
While UF’s defense seemed solid, redshirt junior Kelly Maxwell served fireballs from the circle, striking out the orange and blue four times after three innings.
By the bottom of the third, the Gators defense fell apart. OSU junior Julia Cottrill singled to right field to get on first and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt.
Graduate student Chelsea Alexander reached first base off of another bunt to third, placing runners on the corners.
Oklahoma State senior Chyenne Factor delivered another bunt that reached first base, allowingCottrill to score the first run of the game. Delbrey was replaced by fifth year Natalie Lugo right after a solid first two innings.
Lugo made an immediate impact, forcing a double play to retire the side and stop the scoring.
After a quiet fourth from UF, Lugo opened the bottom half of the frame with a four-pitch walk. Junior outfielder Karli Petty bunted towards first base. Lugo avoided another Cowgirl bunt, forcing the out at first. With Pennington on second, graduate student Hayley Busby grounded to the shortstop who threw her out at first.
With two outs in the bottom of the fourth, the Cowgirls had another chance for a run with Pennington on third. Cottrill hit Lugo’s pitch to left field as she made her way to first, scoring Pennington. Lugo found herself with the bases loaded, and head coach Tim Walton visited Lugo in the circle as the Cowgirls led 2-0.
Lugo needed one out to avoid any more runs. Factor ground it to Adams, getting Alexander out at second, saving UF from further damage.
Maxwell didn’t let the Gators respond, tallying three straight outs and a pop fly by sophomore Katie Kistler that was caught at second base.
For the first time since the second inning, the Gators shut out any runs in the bottom of the fifth.
Sophomore first baseman Avery Goelz smacked the ball into the infield, reaching first base. Fifth-year Hannah Adams followed, walking to first.
With one out in the bottom of the sixth, Cottrill hit a fastball down center field as it landed on the tip of the wall, making it all the way to second.
Junior Rylee Trlicek replaced Lugo and attempted a comeback. Trlicek went on to finish the inning with a strikeout.
Petty caught the first out of the inning: a pop fly Walsh hit toward foul territory near first base. Junior utility player Sarah Longley followed.
Maxwell immediately threw two straight strikes, but Longley hit the ball down center field, finding enough green to run to first base. Lindsey replaced Longley at first, and Kistler was up next at bat.
A final flyout from Thomas brought UF one game away from elimination.
Maxwell, ending the day with nine strikeouts and three hits, threw the first shutout for Oklahoma State in the Women’s College World Series since 1998; the Cowgirls beat the Gators 2-0.
Florida will play an elimination match against UCLA at 3:00 p.m. Sunday.
Brandon Hernandez is a student at the University of Florida studying journalism. He is a writer for The Alligator, Gator Country and for PlugTalkSports. You can find most of his work on his Twitter (BranH2001) and on his podcast, “The Courtside Podcast,” on Spotify.