GAINESVILLE — It wasn't its best performance of the season, but Florida's 4-2 win over California on Friday afternoon puts the Gators one win way from the softball College World Series.
Frankly, that's what matters most to the Gators.
"We played well enough to win," coach Tim Walton said. "At this time of the season, that's really all that matters. But we've got to do a better job of being balanced (today)."
The Gators earned the win despite stranding 10 runners, and ace pitcher Stacey Nelson gave up nine hits (10 strikeouts).
Florida (66-3) took a 1-0 lead in the third off Francesca Enea's single that scored Aja Paculba. The Gators picked up three runs, all with two outs, in the fourth to take a 4-0 lead. Cal (43-26) scored in the fifth and sixth but also stranded 10 runners (including bases loaded in the sixth) and was hampered by three costly errors and two unearned runs.
"We played hard and it's unfortunate we had some key errors and some opportunities we didn't capitalize on," Golden Bears coach Diane Ninemire said. "When you're playing in a championship game, it's the team with the fewest errors that win."
Florida plays Cal today at noon (televised on ESPN) in the second game of the best-of-three series.
Women's golf: UF ninth
Florida finished ninth in the NCAA women's championships in Albuquerque, N.M., with a four-day total of 1,196 after shooting 11-over 299 in the final round. Southern California won the title at 1168. Florida State's Caroline Westrup, competing as an individual, finished tied for 13th at 294 after shooting 1-under 71, her best round of the tournament. Tiffany Chudy (70—298) led the Gators, finishing 27th.
ACC: Three Virginia pitchers held down Florida State, helping defeat the Seminoles 5-3 in Jacksonville. Ryan Strauss (8-1) took his first loss of the season for FSU, which plays North Carolina at 5 p.m. today.
SEC: Vanderbilt beat South Carolina 7-5 in Hoover, Ala., and must beat Ole Miss twice today to reach the title game.
C-USA: UCF (31-27) was eliminated in a 5-2 loss to host Tulane.
WOMEN'S LACROSSE: Northwestern defeated Syracuse 16-8 in the semifinals in Towson, Md., and will go for its fourth consecutive national championship on Sunday against Penn or Duke.
MEN'S BASKETBALL: Memphis guard Antonio Anderson withdrew from the NBA draft.
Times wires contributed to this report.