Rogers Leads Gators Over Bama to Take 1-0 Championship Series Lead

Aubree Munro opens the scoring for the Gators with a leadoff homerun in the top of the third. (Gatorzone)

Aubree Munroe opens the scoring for the Gators with a leadoff homerun in the top of the third. (Gatorzone)

Behind Hannah Rogers dominating pitching performance, the Florida Gators softball team has gone where no prior team has gone before: a 1-0 lead in the Women’s College World Series championship series. In fact, the Gators had never even won a game in the finals prior to tonight going 0-4 in two prior trips in ’09 and ’11.

Tonight, however, would be different as they used a familiar script of stifling pitching, outstanding defense, and timely hitting to down conference rival Alabama 5-0. Rogers (30-8) retired the first twelve Crimson Tide batters she faced before giving up a leadoff single in the bottom of the fifth inning. Not to worry, however, as the Gators showed why they are the nation’s leading defensive squad as they pulled off a 5-4-3 double play after a fielder’s choice to end the inning. It was their second double play in two days.

The Gators opened up the scoring in the third inning as catcher Aubree Munroe hit a leadoff homerun, the Gators 11th in the postseason. Taking the 1-0 lead into the top half of the fifth, the Gators got a 2 out rally which was started when second baseman Kelsey Stewart beat out a bunt single. The Gators would follow with an rbi double from outfielder Kirsti Merritt and an rbi single from third baseman Stephanie Tofft to take a 3-0 lead into the bottom of the fifth a lead which was secured with the defensive double play gem.

In the top of the 6th, the Gators would extend the lead to 5-0 on a sacrifice fly by Tofft which was followed by an rbi double by Lauren Haegar. After a 1-2-3 sixth inning, Rogers would give up a leadoff single in the bottom of the seventh setting the stage for another fantastic double play by the Gators. The Tide would get two consecutive hits to make it interesting before Rogers got Bama catcher Molly Fichtner to ground out to secure the game one victory for the Gators.

It was a 4 hit shutout masterpiece for Hannah Rogers who continued her masterful post season performance. Crimson Tide ace Jaclyn Traina, a rival of Rogers back to the days of middle school, took the loss.

It was another all around fantastic performance by the Gators in this postseason where they have scored 75 runs while giving up only 7, a paltry 0.79 ERA while going 8-1. The Gators are now one win away from winning their first softball national championship.

Game two of the series is set for an 8 pm eastern start tomorrow and will be broadcast live on ESPN.

Rogers Leads Gators to Championship Series Berth of Women’s College World Series

Hannah Rogers leads Gators over Baylor to reach championship series of Women's College World Series

Hannah Rogers leads Gators over Baylor to reach championship series of Women’s College World Series. (photo AP/Sue Ogrocki)

Hannah Rogers, the Florida Gator softball team’s dominating pitcher, survived a rare tough inning to help lead the Gators to the championship series of the Women’s College World Series. It’s the Gators third berth in the Championship series. Using a solid combination of timely hitting, outstanding defense, and great pitching the Gators cruised past the Baylor Bears 6-3 and will now face the winner of Oregon and Alabama in a three game series for the national championship.

The Gators began the scoring bringing in individual runs in the third and fourth innings before opening it up in the fifth with a three run double by first baseman Taylor Schwarz who actually ended the inning getting thrown out at third attempting to stretch the double into a triple. It would be all the runs they would need.

However, the Baylor Bears, who had come back from a 7-0 deficit yesterday against Kentucky to make it to this game, made this one interesting in the bottom half of the fifth rallying with three runs to close to within 5-3 and put the pressure back on the Gators. The three runs given up was a rarity for Rogers who had gone 32 innings without allowing a run prior to that Baylor outburst.

The Gators, however, were not shaken, bringing another run across in the top of the 6th for the final 6-3 margin. Rogers, for her part, did not seem fazed at all going 1-2-3 in the 6th and 7th innings with two groundouts, two fly outs, and two strikeouts for the complete game victory.

The Gators weren’t necessarily monsters at the plate but were efficient getting 6 runs on 8 hits with some timely bunting and 4 hit by pitches. And other than the 5th inning, Hannah Rogers was her usual dominant self. She did, however, receive some help from the defense which was outstanding in this one. The Gators ended the 2nd inning on a fantastic 6-3 double play by SS Kathlyn Medina and then 3B Stephanie Tofft robbed Baylor’s Lindsey Cargill of a double down the third base line when she made an amazing line drive snag.

Tofft went 2-3 at the plate with two rbi’s and Scwarz went 1-4 with the three run double.

The Gators will now face the winner between top seeded Oregon and conference rival Alabama in the three game championship series. The Gators have history with both teams this season. The Gators went 2-0 vs Oregon winning 2-1 back in February and 4-0 last Friday in the world series to get to today’s game. They did, however, drop a three game home series to Alabama going 1-2 back in March.

The championship series begins tomorrow evening at 7 eastern and game one will be broadcast live on ESPN2. Game two will begin at 7 eastern on Tuesday and will be broadcast live on ESPN. Game three, if necessary, will be Wednesday at 7 eastern and also be broadcast live on ESPN.