GAINESVILLE, Fla. — After being shut out in the second game of the Super Regional on Friday, Alabama coach Patrick Murphy managed to find the bright side.
“Well, the good thing is there’s another game,” he said.
Winner to the Women’s College World Series.
Florida, the top seed in the NCAA Tournament, got a four-hit shutout from senior pitcher Delanie Gourley and a two-run homer from Amanda Lorenz to beat the Tide 2-0.
The two teams play today at 4 p.m. (CDT) to settle the grudge match.
“We’re still the underdog,” Murphy said. “We’re the 16 seed, they’re the No. 1 seed. The pressure is all on them. Our kids have been through so much adversity. It’s going to be icing on the cake.”
After being shut out by Alexis Osario on Thursday night, Florida didn’t muster up a lot of offense on Friday night. But Lorenz blasted a two-run homer in the third and Gourley made it hold up.
“It wasn’t my best pitch and she’s a good hitter,” said starting pitcher Sydney Littlejohn. “So I tip my hat to her.”
Alabama had a chance to jump on top in the top of the inning, but a pair of calls kept the Tide off the scoreboard.
With a runner on first and one out, Bailey Hemphill tapped the ball in front of the plate. Gourley threw to first but it hit Hemphill putting runners on first and third before the umpires ruled the freshman interfered with the throw.
With two outs, Elissa Brown was called out for interference when she tangled with Florida shortstop Sophia Reynoso on a ground ball.
“That’s what happens in a game like this,” Murphy said. “One pitch, one play, one bad call usually does it.”
“I’m not sure,” he said.
Alabama starter Sydney Littlejohn had it going early, retiring the first eight batters she faced before Florida’s Justine McLean tapped one down the third base line that traveled all of 10 feet.
That brought up Lorenz, the Gators’ leading hitter. One pitch after walking off a foul ball that clipped her right leg, Lorenz ripped a two-run homer to right-center field.
It was her team-leading 11th homer and ended a scoreless streak for Alabama pitchers at 30⅔ innings in the postseason.
Alabama got a big defensive play in the next inning when centerfielder Elissa Brown charged Janell Wheaton’s single up the middle and gunned down pinch-runner Katie Chronister at the plate to end the top of the fourth.
“I thought (Littlejohn) pitched a great game,” Murphy said.
Murphy said he will likely throw ace Osorio in today’s game. Florida is expected to counter with player of the year candidate Kelly Barnhill.
“It’s a great position to be in right here,” said Florida coach Tim Walton. “It’s Alabama-Florida. I just looked today and saw that they are a 16 seed. It doesn’t really matter.
“It’s Alabama-Florida with a chance to go to the Women’s College World Series. Winner take all.”
Florida, as the higher seed, will be the home team today.