Florida Softball vs. Alabama: Prediction for SEC Showdown in Women’s College World Series

Two words define the immediate future for Florida softball:

Quick turnaround.

If we expand to three words, another phrase comes to mind:

Flush it out.

That’s the situation the Gators find themselves in after their 10-0 defeat to Texas in the second round of the Women’s College World Series on Saturday night in Oklahoma City.

This loss has pushed UF into the losers bracket, where they will face No. 14 Alabama on Sunday at 3 p.m.

The Tide are coming off a high, having staved off elimination with a 2-1 win over Duke on Friday night.

Here are the keys to victory for Florida, along with a prediction:

Florida Softball Must Rely on Past Resilience

Florida’s greatest strength this season has been its ability to rebound from losses. They’ve lost back-to-back games just once this season, against USF and then twice to Missouri from April 10-13.

After their most recent run-rule loss — a 12-3 defeat to FSU on April 24 — the Gators bounced back with an 11-6 win over Georgia.

More recently, Florida responded well after a 5-2 loss last Saturday to Baylor in the super regionals, with a 5-3 win over the Bears the following day, securing their spot in Oklahoma City.

Now, UF must tap into that resilience once again.

“I think we’re going to control the vibes, keep the vibes loose, have fun,” Skylar Wallace said after Saturday’s loss. “We really have nothing to lose at this point. You just have to play softball.”

Avoid First Inning Troubles from Rothrock

When Tim Walton spoke to the media postgame on Saturday night, he highlighted a key point about Keagan Rothrock.

“Typically when she goes good, she goes good. When she goes bad, she goes bad,” he said.

This was evident Saturday when the freshman allowed two runs and three hits in the first inning before Walton pulled her for Ava Brown.

A similar situation occurred the previous Saturday when Rothrock was pulled in the first inning after giving up three runs against Baylor. The next day, she pitched a strong game, making it through the first inning unscathed.

This pattern repeated on Thursday in Florida’s eventual 1-0 win over Oklahoma State.

On Sunday, Rothrock has an opportunity to shine against an Alabama offense that has scored just three runs in two WCWS games. She needs to capitalize on this chance.

**Florida Softball vs. Alabama Prediction**

Florida Gators outfielder Katie Kistler (29) fields a fly ball in the top of the first. The Florida Gator softball team played the Baylor Bears at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium in Gainesville, FL on Friday, May 24, 2024. The Gators took the first game 4-2 in the NCAA Super Regionals. [Doug Engle/Gainesville Sun]

Prediction: Florida 5, Alabama 3

After Saturday’s loss, UF faces a tough road to advance to its first championship series since 2017, needing to win three consecutive games.

However, I don’t see their journey ending on Sunday.

The Gators have shown a strong ability to recover from losses. Rothrock should bounce back against Alabama’s offense, and while Kayla Beaver is an excellent pitcher, Alabama isn’t as formidable as Texas or Oklahoma State.

Wallace acknowledged that Alabama is better than when UF won two of three games against them in mid-March, but she also noted that the Gators have improved as well, which will be evident on Sunday.

“We’re familiar with each other. We have a lot of film. We can reflect on that, see our strengths and weaknesses, and develop a good game plan and approach,” Wallace said.