OKLAHOMA CITY -- Greetings from the home of the Women’s College World Series.
I arrived in OKC late last night and checked into my hotel on the southeast side of town. With the tornado tragedies of last week, many regional hotels are full with FEMA workers and volunteers, so a few members of the UF traveling party are spread about, while the team is staying downtown.
As for softball, No. 2-seed Florida (55-7) faces Southeastern Conference rival Tennessee (49-10) in their opening game Thursday at 2:30 p.m. ET. The Gators took two of three from the Volunteers in their three-game series back in March in Gainesville, but each of those games went to extra innings. The winner will face either Nebraska or Washington Friday night.
Florida and Tennessee battled down to the wire for the regular season SEC title, with the Gators taking the crown by one game.
UF’s coaches and players will meet with ESPN this morning then practice that have a two-hour practice starting at noon at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium. Their NCAA media obligations will follow -- and so will a second practice after that. That’s how Coach Tim Walton rolls and he’s not going to change this time of year.
Walton wants the Gators to have fun and relish this experience -- the program’s fifth WCWS berth in six seasons -- but he won’t compromise the work ethic that made this surprising season possible.
“The team that goes out there and plays the game like they’re playing in the backyard is going to win,” Walton said. “We’re not going to do anything we haven’t done all year. We’re going to play hard, practice hard and we’re not going to go out there and put a bunch of pressure on ourselves.”
For stories and an occasional blog from the WCWS, check back with GatorZone.com and follow me for on Twitter for live updates and pics @GatorZoneChris.