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Washington, Alabama Advance on Elimination Saturday

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(Photo courtesy of Linda Donnelly)

OKLAHOMA CITY – Elimination Saturday at the Women’s College World Series marks one of the toughest days of the college softball season, as four teams see their quest for a national title come to an end. On this day, the WCWS field is cut in half and Sunday’s semifinal matchups are set, bringing the remaining squads one step closer to hoisting the trophy at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium.

Session one on Saturday saw Washington take down Minnesota, 5–3, in Game 1 of the day to send the Gophers home and set up a Saturday night elimination game for the Huskies against Oklahoma State. Game 2 of the day was a battle of the SEC foes, as Alabama outlasted Florida, 15–3, to end the Gators’ season and grant the Crimson Tide a date with Arizona on Saturday night.

Here you will find three takeaways from the day ahead of Saturday’s elimination nightcap.

Rain Delay Shakes Things Up

A rain delay in the sixth inning of the contest between Washington and Minnesota shook up the schedule on Saturday afternoon at the WCWS. It lasted more than three hours and pushed things back considerably.

"I think trying to stay warm the whole time might have been a little bit too long," Washington pitcher Gabbie Plain told reporters about the delay after the game. "It would have been playing another game altogether. We all had a break for quite a while."

Gabbie Plain Is Just Plain Good

Plain, Washington’s sophomore ace, was dominant in the circle for much of Saturday afternoon's game, recording 10 strikeouts in 6.2 innings of work. The All-American had four strikeouts through the opening two frames against Minnesota and retired the first six batters she faced. Though she struggled a bit with control following the rain delay, she allowed just four hits to the Gophers on the day.

Besides Minnesota's No. 9 hitter Carlie Brandt, who had two hits and three RBIs against Plain, Washington's ace shut down the Gopher lineup on Saturday.

Kelly Barnhill Struggles In Final College Game

The storied collegiate career of Kelly Barnhill came to an end on Saturday in an unceremonious way, as the senior recorded just two outs in the first inning before needing to be relieved by Elizabeth Hightower. She later reentered the game for just one pitch in the top of the fifth, before exiting to a curtain call from the crowd in Oklahoma City.

A three-run home run from Kaylee Tow got the scoring started for Alabama off of Barnhill, which was later followed up by another three-run shot from Merris Schroder to extend the Crimson Tide lead to 6–0 with just two outs in the first. Barnhill's final appearance saw her give up three hits, six earned runs, and two walks in the short outing.

The three-time All-American's exit marked the end of a career during which she essentially rewrote Florida's record book. Barnhill's playing career will continue in the National Pro Fastpitch this summer with the Chicago Bandits, by whom she was drafted first overall in April.

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Alabama Turned To Joy, Mudita Achieved

The Alabama Crimson Tide came within one win of playing for a national championship thanks to a walk-off winner from senior Caroline Hardy.