Florida Gators aim for redemption in Super Regional

UF softball coach Tim Walton and the Gators are poised to face Alabama in the Gainesville Super Regional. (Jordan McPherson / Orlando Sentinel File) Nearly a year later, Florida Gators softball player Amanda Lorenz still remembers the shock of the jarring loss.

“I came [to Florida] because I wanted to win a national championship,” the sophomore outfielder said.

Last season — Lorenz’s first with the team — they didn’t.

After consecutive losses to the Georgia Bulldogs in the 2016 NCAA Super Regional, the Gators’ march toward winning their third straight national championship was brutally halted.

“It was different. I didn’t expect it,” Lorenz said of the loss to the Bulldogs. “Before I got here, I thought it was going to be easy to get to the World Series. I thought it was easy to host a regional. I thought it was easy to be in the super regionals.”

And despite boasting a national No. 1 overall seed and one of the top pitching staffs in the country, Florida’s current postseason has been anything but easy.

On Sunday, the Gators (53-7) were forced to the brink of elimination by the Oklahoma State Cowgirls, which shutout Florida 1-0 in the first game of the regional final to force a winner-take-all finale — a game UF won thanks to timely hits by Lorenz and second baseman Nicole DeWitt.

Now, the Gators face another challenge — meetings with the Alabama Crimson Tide (45-16) in the opening rounds of the NCAA Super Regional in Gainesville today and Friday.

The Crimson Tide advanced out of the Tuscaloosa Regional with a 1-0 win over Minnesota on Sunday night.

Today’s game will mark the first time the two teams have competed against each other this season.

“I think the one thing with the way the formula of the league schedule is, it seems like every year, you have somebody that you’re accustomed to playing every year not on your schedule,” UF coach Tim Walton said. “We’ve played them a bunch the past few years. We’ve had some very meaningful games. None bigger than this weekend.”

When each team takes the field at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium today, the margin for error will be small, Walton said.

Like Florida, Alabama has one of the most talented pitching staffs in the nation, headed by junior hurler Alexis Osorio and senior Sydney Littlejohn.In 35 appearances and 26 starts in the circle, Osorio has thrown 318 strikeouts — eight more than UF’s Kelly Barnhill — and her 1.22 ERA ranks her 12th in the nation in that category. Littlejohn is right behind her, ranked 20th in the country with a 1.28 ERA.In the two wins against Minnesota, Osorio and Littlejohn combined to pitch consecutive shutouts, giving up a total of seven hits and six walks in the process.“We just have to stick to what we know how to do,” said DeWitt, who busted her sixth homerun of the year in Sunday’s win over OSU. “We can’t go out there and change our game. That’s not gonna work.“We just have to trust ourselves and […]