Washington’s postseason run came to an end Sunday with a 5-2 loss to Florida in the Women’s College World Series. The Gators will play defending champ Oklahoma for the title.
OKLAHOMA CITY — In 2014, against the Alabama Crimson Tide in Game 2 of the Championship Series of the Women’s College World Series, Florida coach Tim Walton threw a freshman pitcher into the fray.
Delanie Gourley pitched two hitless innings and struck out two Alabama batters. She didn’t close the game, but she helped the Gators win and claim their first national title in school history. After the game, Walton was approached by Florida’s athletic director at the time, Jeremy Foley. “That was a gutsy move,” Foley said.
“This isn’t the last time we’re going to come back here,” Walton said. “I’ve got to get that kid in there so she can have an opportunity to feel what it’s like to be in this moment.”
It paid off.
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Gourley, now a senior, made her first start against the Washington Huskies (50-14) Sunday with a chance to do just what her coach saw, get back to the World Series final. In a 5-2 win for Florida, she didn’t disappoint. Gourley, with the help of a rolling Gator offense, orchestrated a complete game, 10-strikeout performance that Walton called “as good as I’ve ever seen.”
Washington coach Heather Tarr was just as complimentary, saying Gourley threw one of the best change-ups she’s seen. Gourley’s excellence makes it hard to believe it was only her first start, but Florida opened the tournament with back-to-back starts by Kelly Barnhill.
“Hat’s off to Florida for having two and three arms. I don’t know, for the Washington Huskies, if it was hard for us to prepare. I think we were ready,” Tarr said. “I think Gourley pitched a great game. I don’t think it was us. She didn’t miss. Maybe one time she missed and we took advantage of…