Sunday, June 17, 2018
Colleges

Georgia ends UF's softball season with two-run walkoff home run

GAINESVILLE — It might be hard for Kaylee Puailoa to remember any moment more clearly than she'll remember Friday night.

Facing Florida in Game 2 of the best-of-three Super Region softball series and already up one game to none, Puailoa stepped in against Florida's All-American ace Aleshia Ocasio for the first time in the series.

Trailing 2-1, with a runner on first base, an 0-and-2 count and Game 3 one strike away with Florida ahead, Puailoa said she got was she was looking for: a rise ball down the middle. She connected and sent centerfielder Kirsti Merritt backpedaling.

"With Kirsti in centerfield, there's always a chance," Florida catcher Aubree Munro said, before breaking down. "Even though that ball was hit really well, we thought we had a chance with Kirsti in center."

But Merritt could only watch the ball — and UF's season — sail over the fence for a walkoff home run.

In the program's biggest win in recent memory, No. 16 seed Georgia stunned back-to-back national champion No. 1 Florida 3-2 to advance to the Women's College World Series.

But while offense won the game in dramatic fashion, it was Georgia's (45-18) pitching that made the difference.

Georgia ace Chelsea Wilkerson handled the Gators (56-7) in both games, allowing just two runs in 14 innings.

"I knew her speeds and her matchups with us have been … really difficult for us to be able to square up," UF coach Tim Walton said. "We weren't able to square her up in her entire career."

This is just the second time in the past nine years that the Gators won't be in the Women's College World Series. The loss also ends Florida's quest for a third consecutive title.

FSU WINS: Freshman shortstop Cali Harrod led host Florida State to a 6-2 softball victory over Utah in their Super Region opener. Harrod went 2-for-3 with a home run and four RBI at the plate and made a run-saving catch in the sixth. The Seminoles (52-8) need to win one of two games today to reach the WCWS.

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