By Stephen K. Lee
No. 8 Tennessee punched its ticket to the 2015 Women’s College World Series with a 2-1 victory over No. 9 Florida State on Friday in Game 3 of the Knoxville Super Regional.
Tennessee will make its seventh appearance in the Women’s College World Series after previously making it to softball’s grandest stage in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2012 and 2013. The Lady Vols have now advanced in seven of their eight Super Regional appearances and UT improves to 15-6 all-time in Super Regional games.
The 2015 NCAA Women’s College World Series will be held at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium – OGE Energy Field in Oklahoma City, May 28 to June 3. This is the 34th annual NCAA Division I Softball Championship and the 25th time that Oklahoma City and ASA Hall of Fame Stadium – OGE Energy Field will host this premier college softball championship event.
Rainey Gaffin (17-3) dominated in the circle in front of a packed house, fanning four over seven strong innings with one run allowed. Gaffin out-dueled Florida State ace and 2014 USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year Lacey Waldrop (28-7), who threw six frames with two runs allowed and seven strikeouts.
The Lady Vols bounced back from a 6-1 loss in Game 2 earlier in the day. Friday’s Game 3 win marked the fourth time that Tennessee had bounced back from a Game 2 loss with a Game 3 win to advance to the Women’s College World Series. UT previously won Game 3 against Michigan in 2006, against Hawaii in 2006 and against Georgia in 2012.
Tennessee is making its fourth WCWS appearance (2010, 2012, 2013, 2015) in the last six years and its seventh in the last 11 years. All seven of UT’s WCWS berths have come under the direction of co-head coaches Ralph Weekly and Karen Weekly.