Battling through the Women’s College World Series Bracket, two programs have emerged unscathed. Needing just three games to secure a spot in the Championship Series, the Florida Gators have looked unstoppable. Similarly, the Oklahoma Sooners advanced earning the opportunity to claim back-to-back titles — a feat accomplished by two programs (Arizona and Florida) since the tournament expanded to a best-of-three championship format in 2005.
Of course, everything starts in the circle for these heavyweights in world of college softball. The Gators look to sophomore ace and National Player of the Year, Kelly Barnhill, to deliver pitch after pitch. Through 184.2 innings of work, Barnhill owns a nation leading .34 earned run average. The effort helped produce a season compromised of 40-shutout victories. Those type of number quickly bring comparisons conversations involving Barnhill and other like Cat Osterman.
The deep pitching staff of Flordia carries a combined .67 ERA into the Championship Series against a Sooner squad that knows how to score in bunches. In 67 games this season, OU has plated 422 total runs — a number only three other programs can boast. Dropping bunts at random, Head Coach Patty Gasso isn’t afraid to mix things up, breaking expectations and preconceived ideas. The move proved effective resulting in 6.30 runs per game and 58 wins this year.
Together, these two giants own every NCAA Championship since 2013. Although the two programs have not met while under the direction of Coach Gasso and Coach Tim Walton, there’s quite a bit of familiarity. Florida’s Walton not only graduated from the University of Oklahoma but also began his coaching career with Gasso and the Sooners. Clearly, greatness breed greatness as Walton helped OU to their first national championship in 2000.
This series possesses all the ingredients for an instant classic. The Championship Series begins Monday in Oklahoma City at 6:00 PM CT.