Special to Gatorsports.com
OKLAHOMA CITY — Well, it was bound to happen one year, especially if a team makes it to the Women’s College World Series as many times as Florida has. This is the 10th WCWS appearance for UF in the last 12 seasons, which is more than any other program in the nation.
But this trip is one to forget for Florida after it was eliminated 15-3 Saturday by Alabama (58-9) to go 0-2 at the WCWS for the first time. The Gators (49-18) were also run-ruled for the first time and lost to the Crimson Tide here for the first time (now 5-1).
Alabama, the SEC regular-season champion, jumped on Florida senior ace Kelly Barnhill (34-14) with two, three-run home runs for a 6-0 lead in the first inning. Barnhill was pulled from the game after allowing three walks, hitting a batter and giving up the two home runs on 30 pitches.
Florida, the SEC tourney champion, also didn’t have much of an answer early against Crimson Tide pitcher Sarah Cornell (22-1), the league’s pitcher of the year.
Alabama, which scored four runs in the third inning to ice the game against UF pitcher Elizabeth Hightower, will play another elimination game Saturday night at 11:30 against Arizona (48-13).
UF coach Tim Walton paid a tribute to Barnhill, a second-team All-American and a record-setting pitcher at Florida, by sending her back to the circle for a final pitch in the fourth inning. She left after hugs from teammates and a standing ovation from the crowd at USA Hall of Fame Stadium.
Senior Amanda Lorenz, one of the best players in Florida history, also received a standing ovation from the crowd in her final at-bat.
Kendyl Lindaman hit a home run, her 15th of the season, to allow UF to avoid the shutout in the fifth inning and Sophia Reynoso (2) added a two-run home run to settle the final margin.