The fact that tonight's Alabama vs. Florida match-up in the first game of a best-of-three in the championship of the Women's College World Series is a sub-story to the fact that these two are truly the best teams playing in Oklahoma City. Take it from a guy who has watched every game this this world series has offered. There aren't any better teams out there than the Crimson Tide and the Gators. There were no close calls to determine a game, no slug fests where one team caught a lucky break, no injuries that resulted in an advantage. When it comes to these two, it has been total dominance.
The Gators have dominated this tournament from the plate and the Tide have ruled from the mound. Over the next two, or perhaps even three, games one of those is going to have to give. As a team, Florida is batting .321 and has driven in 21 runs in their three games in OKC. Both of those are tournament highs among the eight teams represented at the Women's College World Series.
The Gators have seven of the top twenty batters in this performance led by Bailey Castro and Kirsti Merritt who are both hitting .571 in their seven at bats of the tournament. They are going to be challenged by Alabama's Jaclyn Traina who has made a habit of sending batters back to the dugout. In twenty-one innings of work here in OKC, Traina has has surrendered just nine hits and fanned 23 opposing batters. She's sitting on a 0.33 ERA going into the championship series and the Tide have seen no reason at all to not be confident in her arm after she's already diced up Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Oregon this week.
"They're very good and we have to make quick adjustments during the game and play Alabama softball," Traina said when asked about playing the Gators again.
Alabama took two of three games from Florida earlier in the year but Tide head coach Patrick Murphy isn't hanging his hat on a series that took place almost three months ago. "I think both teams are obviously much better right now," Murphy said about the championship match-up compared to the regular season. "That's a long time ago. Two months of hard work and I think it's going to be a heck of a good series."
As far as exactly how good both teams are playing right now, Oregon's Mike White knows first hand. His Ducks fell to the Gators on Friday and then to Alabama on Sunday and never scored a run in either game.
"They're both pitching very well. Obviously Hannah Rogers has given up her first runs in I don't know how many innings, and there are no secrets between those two. They know each other pretty well. Defensively, Florida, I think may have a little bit of an edge. The way they play the middle infield there is pretty tight. Not to say that anybody is bad, but I'm just (saying) who's got the edge there. And offensively, possibly Florida may have a little bit of an edge there; but they're very equal. It's going to be a great series. I wish I could stick around to watch it," White said after his team was eliminated by Bama on Sunday afternoon.
The first game in the series starts tonight at 7:00.