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Florida stuns Oklahoma 9-3 in Women's CWS semis; Sooners still alive in quest for 4th straight title

Florida's Korbe Otis (33) bats during an NCAA softball Women's College World Series game against Oklahoma State on Thursday, May 30, in Oklahoma City. Florida won 1-0. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Florida has backed three-time defending national champion Oklahoma into a rare must-win situation.

Skylar Wallace hit two home runs to lead the Gators past the Sooners 9-3 in the Women's College World Series semifinals on Monday, but Oklahoma still can win a record fourth straight national title.

Because the Sooners entered the game undefeated in bracket play and the Gators had a loss in the double-elimination format, Oklahoma remains alive. Monday's game started three hours late because of rain and lightning, and the delay led the NCAA to move the winner-take-all rematch to Tuesday.

Oklahoma hasn’t faced an elimination game in the NCAA Tournament since the 2022 World Series semifinals against UCLA. The Sooners beat the Bruins 15-0 to start an NCAA-record 20-game tournament win streak.

Oklahoma coach Patty Gasso hopes for a similar response this time.

“This is really going to be a call-out,” she said. “They know it. They know what’s going on. They know what’s at stake. Who are we? What are we made of?”

Reagan Walsh had three hits, including a three-run homer, for the fourth-seeded Gators (54-14). Florida pounded 10 hits.

“I mean, this offense is unreal,” Wallace said. “We take a lot of pride in our swings, all of our work. So we’re never doubting who we are as hitters. We stick to our approaches. We make the pitchers work a lot. You could tell today, I mean, we were firing. We had nothing to lose, playing free.”

Top-seeded Texas and No. 8 seed Stanford were to play Monday night in the other semifinal. The Cardinal needed a victory to avoid elimination.

Florida freshman Keagan Rothrock, who leads the nation in victories, threw 130 pitches in seven innings to improve to 33-8. She threw 95 pitches in a win over Alabama on Sunday.

“Keagan Rothrock — just her ability to bear the load, but more importantly the way she competes — there’s an opportunity in those games that most average freshmen are going to get nervous," Florida coach Tim Walton said. "She found a way to get another gear and get better.”

Tiare Jennings hit a two-run homer for the Sooners, the 97th blast of her career. Nicole May got the starting nod for Oklahoma, but she lasted just two innings and gave up four runs on six hits for the second-seeded Sooners (56-7).

Florida opened the scoring in the first inning when Walsh's single scored Korbe Otis.

The Gators scored again in the second when Kendra Falby sent a hard shot down the left field line. Oklahoma's Rylie Boone misjudged it and the ball bounced to the wall. Falby circled the bases for an inside-the-park home run. Wallace followed with a homer over the right field fence to make it 3-0.

Oklahoma's powerful offense didn't register a hit until the fourth inning. The Sooners finally got on the board when Kinzie Hansen's slow-rolling single knocked in Kasidi Pickering.

Walsh's homer in the fourth put Florida up 7-1 and Wallace's second homer, a two-run shot, made it 9-3.

The Sooners saved Kelly Maxwell, who hasn't pitched since Saturday. Gasso didn't second-guess her decision to rest her ace.

“I can’t keep leaning on Kelly to take us all the way through,” she said. “You know what, though? This team has to step up as well. We didn’t play well enough to win this game all around. It wasn’t just pitching. It was all the way around.”

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AP college sports: https://apnews.com/hub/college-sports