Florida softball advances at WCWS with 6-2 victory
Published: Thursday, June 2, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, June 3, 2011 at 12:04 a.m.
OKLAHOMA CITY — Hannah Rogers isn't a freshman anymore.
What: Women's College World Series, winner's bracket game
Who: Florida vs. Arizona State
When: 9:30 p.m.
Where: Oklahoma City
Gainesville-area radio: 104.9 FM
Florida's rookie pitcher was called to duty Thursday with two runners on base with one out in the third inning of the Gators' opening-round Women's College World Series game against Missouri, and once again came through like an upperclassmen.
Rogers promptly walked a batter to pitch herself into a bases-loaded situation, then just as promptly pitched her way out of it with a strikeout and a fly ball to left field.
Rogers bailed out senior Stephanie Brombacher, who got in trouble in the second before digging another hole in the third, and the Gators' bats did the rest in a 6-2 victory at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium.
Florida (52-10) will play top-seeded Arizona State, a 3-1 winner over Oklahoma, Friday at 9:30 p.m. in a winners' bracket game that will be televised by ESPN.
A year ago, Florida eliminated Missouri from the World Series when the Tigers were without their injured ace, Chelsea Thomas, who Florida coach Tim Walton quipped has been “striking out a million kids.” Thomas was in the circle this time, but it made little difference as she was overmatched by the free-swinging Gators.
Thomas (31-7), a top-three national player of the year finalist, gave up eight hits with eight strikeouts and four walks.
Florida broke the game open with a power surge in the bottom of the third inning. Michelle Moultrie hit a leadoff solo home run to center field, which was followed soon after by Megan Bush's two-run blast that landed in the upper portion of the bleachers in left field, giving the Gators a 5-0 lead.
The homer, Bush's 21st, gave the senior the school single-season home run record.
Rogers (34-6) did the rest against the Big 12 champions, retiring five batters in a row before issuing a walk to start off the fifth. After a strikeout, the Gators backed Rogers up with an inning-ending double play.
Missouri started the sixth with a walk and a single and finally broke through against Rogers. After a fly ball and a strikeout, Lisa Simmons cranked a two-RBI double to left-center to cut the Gators' lead to 5-2. Pinch hitter Kathryn Poet nearly got a shot down the left-field line that would have driven in another run, but Kasey Fagan stabbed it and threw her out to end the threat.
Rogers pitched 4 2/3 innings, allowing four hits with five walks and six strikeouts for the win.
Florida got two runs off a shaky Missouri defense in the bottom of the first inning. Moultrie set the tone with a leadoff single to shallow right field and moved to second on a groundout. Kelsey Bruder then lined a shot to center, which Missouri center fielder Rhea Taylor tried to play on the short hop. Instead, she booted it into the left-center gap, allowing Bruder to scoot around to third base while Moultrie scored on the play for a 1-0 Florida lead.
Walton then switched to small ball, with slugger Brittany Schutte laying down a sacrifice bunt to score Bruder for a 2-0 lead.
Taylor came up short again on a diving catch attempt in center in the bottom of the sixth, allowing Ensley Gammel to drive in an insurance run with a single.
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