Florida Gators softball suffers heartbreak falling in extra innings to Oklahoma in WCWS semifinal

By OnlyGators.com Staff
June 4, 2024
Florida Gators softball suffers heartbreak falling in extra innings to Oklahoma in WCWS semifinal

Image Credit: NCAA

An incredible run through the 2024 Women’s College World Series ended in excruciating fashion for the No. 4-seed Florida Gators, which took a lead into the bottom of the sixth inning only to fall 6-5 to the No. 2-seed Oklahoma Sooners in extra innings. Florida twice led by two runs in Monday’s elimination game but gave up the advantage on both occasions while being bounced out of contention in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

It was an immense effort over the last week for the Gators, which fell into the loser’s bracket after getting obliterated by the No. 1-seed Texas Longhorns earlier in the WCWS. Florida ended Oklahoma’s 20-game NCAA Tournament winning streak Sunday in a dominant 9-3 victory, but it was simply unable to continue its offensive explosion over the latter few innings of Monday’s rematch.

A trio of two-run homers opened scoring Monday. The Gators jumped ahead in first inning as sophomore catcher Jocelyn Erickson blasted one out, the Sooners answered in kind just minutes later in the bottom frame, and Florida added another in the second as freshman third baseman Ariel Kowalewski put her team ahead 4-2.

Junior designated player Reagan Walsh added a solo shot in the third to push the Gators’ advantage to three runs, but UF only managed one hit and three baserunners over the final five innings as OU clamped down and chipped away.

Oklahoma cut its deficit to 5-4 in the fourth and tied the game with a rally in the sixth as Florida saw seven straight batters retired crossing regulation into extra innings. The Sooners ultimately prevailed with a solo homer in the eighth, keeping alive their opportunity to become the first team to win four straight softball national championships.

Freshman right-handed pitcher Keagan Rothrock (33-9) was shelled over the latter half of the game with OU managing 12 hits to just four created by Florida (three homers). Rockrock was the Gators’ ace all season and took the program into extra innings of a WCWS semifinal in her first campaign, which speaks to how far the team might be able to go over the next few years now that she has immense experience under her belt.

Head coach Tim Walton will surely be as disappointed as his players, though the Gators exceeded the expectations of many this year. The departure of redshirt senior shortstop Skylar Wallace, who herself was immense in Sunday’s victory, will be felt by UF next year, but a ton of returning talent could have the team in the exact same spot one year for now.

It’s nevertheless a tough pill to swallow for Florida, which advanced to the WCWS semifinal and was hoping to move to the WCWS Championship Series for the first time since 2017. The Gators will regroup next season continuing to seek their first national title since 2015.

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