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Florida tops Washington 5-2, advances to championship series

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Florida's Nicole DeWitt (23) steals second as Washington's Ali Aguilar (1) applies the tag in the first inning during the Women's College World Series softball game in Oklahoma City, Sunday, June 4, 2017. (Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman via AP) ia AP)

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Delaney Gourley was nearly perfect, giving Florida a chance for its third national championship in four years.

Gourley struck out 10 while throwing a two-hitter, helping the top-seeded Gators beat Washington 5-2 on Sunday in the semifinals of the Women's College World Series.

The Gators will face Oregon or Oklahoma in the best-of-three championship series starting Monday.

Gourley (22-4) had two strikes on Julia DePonte with two outs in the seventh before DePonte hit a two-run homer for the Huskies (50-14). The two unearned runs were the first runs Florida has allowed in the World Series.

Gourley was fine with it. The senior was happy with Florida's win in her first World Series start.

"Today, to just come out and start a game — my team had my back," she said. "I was really excited. We were all really confident before the game. We just came out on fire."

Kayli Kvistad homered and drove in three runs for the Gators (58-8).

Florida scored four early runs against Taran Alvelo (35-9), who was pulled after recording four outs. Madi Schreyer gave up one run and two hits in 4 2/3 innings of relief, but the damage was done.

Florida's lineup, which has struggled at times this season, has scored 20 runs combined in three World Series games.

"Just to finally give our pitching staff some cushion and some breathing room really means a lot to our offense," Florida left fielder Amanda Lorenz said.

Gourley's performance allowed coach Tim Walton to rest ace Kelly Barnhill for an extra day. Barnhill, USA Softball's National Collegiate Player of the Year, hasn't allowed a run in 11 innings at the World Series. Another strong pitcher, Alesha Ocasio, hasn't even played in the World Series. It's an ideal setup.

"Now, it's up to the players," Walton said. "Our coaching staff does a really good job of preparing and putting that together. The players have to buy in. They have to be able to control their heartbeat on this stage."

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