Rogers shuts down USF, Gators advance
Published: Sunday, May 19, 2013 at 4:40 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, May 19, 2013 at 4:40 p.m.
Tim Walton had a little talk with star pitcher Hannah Rogers in the dugout at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium on Saturday. He knew that the chances of the Gators clobbering South Florida ace Sara Nevins a second straight day were not good.
So Rogers was likely going to be in the middle of a pitcher's duel on a steamy hot day. And she needed to throw strikes.
“She was trying too hard to miss bats (Saturday),” Walton said. “Trying too hard to make her pitches break a lot. I wanted her to throw the ball a little more through the zone.”
Rogers, who walked four batters and hit two more in a win Saturday, was up for the challenge Sunday as Florida handled USF 2-0 to advance to next weekend's Super Regional.
She walked no batters, struck out five and allowed only three harmless singles in pitching the Gators to the regional final win over the team that knocked UF out a year ago.
“It adds more fun to the game,” Rogers said of the duel with Nevins. “If you get down they could come back at any second.”
Nevins was brilliant as well, but control problems in the fourth inning were her downfall. She allowed only one hit — a seventh-inning single by Kelsey Stewart after Nevins re-entered the game with one out in the inning.
“The umpire was giving her the corners and she was more confident throwing that pitch,” Stewart said. “It was nice (to break up the no-hitter).”
Florida came into the game batting .408 with four homers and 18 runs scored in the first two games of the regional. But Nevins looked more like the pitcher who came into Saturday's game with an ERA under 1.0 than the one who allowed seven runs on Saturday.
“Both pitchers were a lot different than they were (on Saturday),” Walton said.
Nevins walked six batters and hit two more as her record dropped to 26-9.
Florida will play host to a Super Regional next weekend against UCLA/Alabama-Birmingham with the winner of two out of three games heading to the Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City.
Florida scored twice in the fourth inning off Nevins for the only runs of the game. With a runner on second and one out, USF chose to intentionally walk Lauren Haeger. But Nevins then walked Kelsey Horton and Taylor Schwarz to force in a run.
After a grounder forced an out at the plate. Nevins hit Taylore Fuller with an inside pitch to make it 2-0.
From that point on, it looked as if Florida might win a game without getting a hit.
“You don't win a lot of games where you don't get a hit,” Walton said. “That's the first time I remember that having a chance to happen. But that's one more thing that makes this team special.”
USF made it interesting in the bottom of the seventh when Kenshyra Jackson singled with one out to bring the tying run to the plate.
But Rogers got Kourtney Salvarola on a comebacker and Lee Ann Spivey on a liner to center to end the game.
Florida is now 55-7 and will be playing in a Super Regional for the sixth time. UF has won four of those, all at home.
“This is a huge accomplishment,” Walton said. “This has to go down as one of the best jobs a team has done. This is one of the most gratifying feelings I've had in a long time.
“But I give the players the credit.”