The Florida Gators showed that they mean business in the Women’s College World Series. Their impressive 11-0 blowout over Baylor sent a clear message that the Gators are here to win.
After Hannah Rogers induced a 1-2-3 inning to kick off the game, the Gators jumped on the scoreboard early. Kirsti Merritt had a one out single, and then took advantage of an error; Lauren Haeger almost grounded into a double play, but a poor throw to second base was dropped, giving Florida runners at the corners with only one down. Stephanie Tofft, moving to the cleanup spot, hit a deep SAC fly to score the first run of the WCWS. Brianna Little walked, and Bailey Castro doubled to center, scoring Haeger and Little.
Merritt began the third inning with a leadoff homer to center, pushing UF ahead 4-0. In the fourth Aubree Monro notched a one out double, and advanced to third on a wild pitch; Kelsey Stewart slipped a two out single through the left side to bat in the fifth run.
Going into the fifth Florida had a chance to win on run rules again, but they would need to score three runs to do it. Haeger led off with a single, and was replaced by Jessica Damico as a pinch runner. Tofft doubled, and Little loaded the bases with a single.
With no outs Freshman Justine McLean subbed in and reached on a fielder’s choice, scoring Damico and keeping the bases full. Taylor Schwarz was hit by a pitch, putting the Gators a run away from another walk off win. Freshman Chelsea Herndon checked in and sent a 1-2 pitch over the wall for a walk off Grand Slam.
Hannah Rogers, pitching in her final campaign, was sensational. She allowed three hits, tallied three Ks, and did not allow a base on balls.
The Orange and Blue improved to 51-12 overall and a stunning 6-1 in the NCAA Tournament. Five of those six wins were on run rules, each of which was a shutout, with a combined score of 57-0.
The other big news for Florida came on Wednesday with the announcement of the All American class. Sophomore Kelsey Stewart garnered First Team recognition, while RHP Hannah Rogers was named to the Third Team. Rogers is the first four-time All American in UF Softball history.
The University of Florida will take on No.1 Oregon on Friday night at 7:00.