When the Florida Gators and Alabama Crimson Tide met on Monday night, it wasn’t your typical SEC matchup. These familiar foes were squaring off in Game 1 of the Women’s College World Series Finals, which, for the first time, was an all-SEC matchup.
Through two innings neither team allowed a hit, and only Bailey Castro had reached base on a walk. Catcher Aubree Monro, batting in the eight hole, led off the third inning with her third home run of the year. Kelsey Stewart drew the game’s second walk, but was left stranded on second.
With two outs in the fifth Stewart laid down a perfect bunt single, which began an exciting two out rally, and was the first of four consecutive hits. Kirsti Merritt doubled to center field, scoring Stewart; Stephanie Tofft also hit an RBI single, putting UF ahead 3-0. Lauren Haeger also singled, but she and Tofft were left on base.
Florida went into the seventh looking for a little insurance and a little momentum to carry into Tuesday, and they got plenty of both. Stewart reached base for her third time on a leadoff single, then reached third on a bunt single by Merritt. Tofft delivered a deep SAC fly to left field, scoring Stewart and moving Merritt to third. Haeger drove a stand up double to left field, making the score 5-0.
Hannah Rogers (30-8) pitched another magnificent game. She retired the first 12 Tide batters she faced, not allowing a single base runner until the fifth inning, and a twin killing ended that threat. Although she gave up three hits in the seventh inning, she never allowed a runner past second base, and didn’t issue a free pass.
Game 2 will be Tuesday night at 8:00. Florida (54-12) will have a chance to win the National Championship, while Alabama will be playing to force Game 3.