Who Is Going To Win The WCWS Championship Series?
The finals of the 2017 Women's College World Series is set.
The best-of-three game championship series will feature the top-seeded Florida Gators, and Oklahoma, the defending national champions.
The series begins Monday evening at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, with game one, beginning at 6 pm (Central time), with game two on Tuesday evening, and then a decisive game, if necessary, on Wednesday night.
So, who is going to win?
Well, first off, this looks like a great match-up, featuring two elite programs.
Combined, these two teams have won the last four championships, with Oklahoma winning in 2013 and 2016, with Florida winning back-to-back titles in 2014 and 2015.
It certainly doesn't surprise me, nor should it anybody else, that Florida is in the finals. I've said all year that I thought they were the best team in the nation.
The Gators, who are 58-8 on the season, haven't been invincible in the postseason however, losing to Ole Miss in the SEC Tournament, before falling to Oklahoma St. in the Gainesville, Florida Regional, and Alabama in the Super Regionals.
Still, they came back to win both the Gainesville Regional, as well as the Super Regional, and are 3-0 in the WCWS, outscoring the opposition, 20-2.
Offensively, Florida does a little bit of everything. They're hitting a .304 as a team, to go along with 51 home runs and 97 runs batted in.
The Gators don't have great power, but they have 5 or 6 players that can beat you with the long ball at anytime, including Amanda Lorenz, their leading hitter, who is at a .396, with 11 homers and 46 RBI's.
Of course, when you're talking about Florida, you're talking pitching.
The Gators feature right-hander Kelly Barnhill, who I believe is the best twirler in the land. She's 26-3, to go along with a 0.34 ERA. and 346 strikeouts.
But wait, there's more!
Left-hander Delanie Gourley is 22-4 with a sparkling 0.64 ERA, and Aleshia Ostacia, who would be the ace on about 90% of the teams in the nation, is 8-1 with a 1.13 ERA. as the #3 pitcher on this staff.
Runs are hard to come by against these arms.
The Sooners, who are 59-9 on the season, won the Big XII Tournament title, before dropping their first game in the Norman, Oklahoma Regional, to North Dakota St., 3-2.
Oklahoma did rebound to win four-straight games to win that regional, before defeating Auburn in the Super Regionals, and then going 3-0 in the WCWS, outscoring the opposition, 13-6.
The Sooners are red hot, going 36-2 over their last 38 games.
Offensively, Oklahoma is batting a .318 with 59 homers and 103 stolen bases.
Sophomore Shay Knighten provides the power, with 10 homers, while freshman Nicole Mendes paces the team with a .434 batting average, which was second in the Big XII this season.
The thing that I love most about Oklahoma's offense is that they generate pop without sacrifice contact. they put the bat on the ball, striking out only 175 times all year, while generating 195 walks.
Pitching-wise, Oklahoma features Junior Paige Parker, who is 21-5 with a 1.37 ERA. and junior Paige Lowary, who is 14-3 with a 1.70 ERA.
Those two might not be Barnhill and Gourley, but they're awfully good as well.
Florida is the favorite, and should be, but Oklahoma matches up well with them, their playing really well, and they're playing only a few miles away from Norman.
I can certainly see Oklahoma winning.
That being said, I'm sticking with Florida, the team that I picked at the beginning of the season.
Their offense is good enough, and their pitching is just unbelievable.
Out of respect to Oklahoma, I'm going to give them a game, but my pick is Florida, in three games.