OKLAHOMA CITY — The winner of the LSU-Florida game on Friday night will put itself in the driver’s seat of one half of the bracket at the Women’s College World Series.
Whichever team prevails will advance to the bracket final Sunday, needing one win to get to the championship series. The loser will move to the other side of the bracket and have to win three consecutive elimination games to make the championship.
That’s a big difference and there are other subplots.
Tigers coach Beth Torina, whose team beat Auburn 6-1 on Thursday, is facing her alma mater and the Tigers will be facing the defending national champion, top seed and Southeastern Conference regular-season champion, which beat Tennessee 7-2 on Thursday.
“The thing about Florida is they know how to win the big game,” Torina said. “They know how to win at this time of year.”
This is also a rematch of a memorable March series. The Gators won the opener, ending the Tigers’ school-record 25-game win streak to start the season, but LSU won the next two and was voted No. 1 in the polls two days later for the first time in school history.
“It’s the next game that we have to play, and it just happens to be against Florida,” said Torina, who pitched for the Gators from 1997-2000. “If they weren’t playing us (Friday), I’d be pulling for them, being my alma mater. But it’s going to be no holds barred and we’re going at them.”
The Tigers expect to face SEC Pitcher of the Year Lauren Haeger, who improved to 29-1 Thursday.
Bianka Bell’s first-inning home run was her 18th of the season, breaking a tie with Sahvanna Jaquish, who matched the record she set as a freshman last season.
Jaquish had a two-run double to give her a record 75 runs batted in, two more than Bell. The double also added to another Jaquish record — 22 multi-RBI games.
But there’s more
The three, four and five hitters — Bell, Jaquish and Kellsi Kloss (who followed Jaquish’s double with a two-run homer) — had half of the Tigers 10 hits and all five of their RBIs. That trio has accounted for 48 of LSU’s 62 homers (77.4 percent) for the season.
The bottom third of the order was no bargain for Auburn either as seven-hole hitter Constance Quinn singled twice for her third multi-hit game of the NCAA tournament and nine-hole hitter Emily Griggs tied a Tigers WCWS record with three hits.
Follow Les East on Twitter @EastAdvocate.