Rogers keeps UF's postseason shutout streak alive
Published: Saturday, May 24, 2014 at 3:27 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, May 24, 2014 at 3:27 p.m.
It’s a good bet somebody will eventually score a postseason run against No. 6 Florida.
(Best-of-3; x-if necessary)
Sunday: Washington (36-14) at Florida (49-11), noon, ESPN, AM-1230
x-Sunday:Washington at Florida, 3 p.m., ESPN, AM-1230
It just wasn’t Saturday.
Senior pitcher Hannah Rogers allowed only four hits and kept the UF postseason scoreless streak going, as the Gators run-ruled No. 8 Washington 9-0 in the first game of the Gainesville Super Regional.
“It all starts in the circle,” said Florida coach Tim Walton, who won his 11th straight Super Regional game. “She set the tone in the first inning and ultimately that was huge.”
The Gators (49-11) need only one more win Sunday to advance to the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City for the sixth time under Walton in the last seven seasons. The two teams play at noon (ESPN) with a second game to follow if necessary.
Florida scored seven runs off Washington’s top two pitchers in the fourth inning to blow open a close game. Those two pitchers walked seven batters and hit another.
“We beat ourselves,” Huskies starting pitcher Kaitlin Inglesby said. “The best part is that it can’t get any worse than (Saturday).”
Washington (36-14) had not allowed a run in its three regional wins last week. Florida has pitched 23 innings in the NCAA tournament without allowing a run.
The Gators received an offensive boost from the bottom of the order, as No. 8 hitter Aubree Munro and No. 9 hitter Katie Medina combined for five hits and three RBIs.
“Eight and nine, what they did was instrumental for us to score that many runs,” Walton said.
Medina, a shortstop in the lineup because of her glove, had only one postseason hit in her career coming into the game. That hit was a walk-off single in the first game of the Super Regional against Alabama-Birmingham last year.
She raised her average for the season by 18 points to .234 with her two hits Saturday.
“When I was up there, I felt good,” she said. “We had the momentum and I felt energetic.”
Rogers made her own trouble in the first when she walked two batters with one out. With the crowd chirping about the strike zone, Rogers kept her composure and got Kylee Lahners, the Huskies’ leading home run hitter, on a pop out to second. She then struck out Ali Aguilar to end the inning.
“They were good pitches, but they were probably balls that I wanted to be strikes,” Rogers said. “It was just a matter of working through it.”
Florida took the lead in the bottom of the second when Munro ripped a two-out double inside third base to score Bailey Castro from second. Castro collided with Washington third baseman Jennie McNeill as she got to the base but still scored easily to make it 1-0.
Munro went 3-for-3 in the game.
“I was just seeing the ball well (Saturday),” she said. “I went to the slap and I’ve felt really good about that lately.”
Castro drew a one-out walk on four pitches to score Kelsey Stewart and make it 2-0 Gators after three.
In the fourth, Munro singled to start the inning and Medina ripped a double down the line to knock out Inglesby. Stewart scored one run with a sacrifice fly and Stephanie Tofft brought home another with an infield single.
Florida loaded the bases later in the inning and Castro laid down a perfect bunt to score Tofft from third.
“I texted one of my assistants (Friday night), ‘Don’t let me forget about the squeeze,’ ” Walton said. “I’ve seen it so many times with bases loaded and the batter is thinking grand slam, and you end up not scoring.”
Bryana Walker walked the next two batters, each time forcing in a run. A fielder’s choice made it 8-0 and Medina’s single gave Florida a 9-0 lead.
Rogers finished off the fifth inning despite Washington getting two of its four singles in the game in the inning. She struck out five and didn’t walk another batter after the first inning.
It was a tough day all around for the Huskies.
“It’s too bad we couldn’t give them a better game,” Washington coach Heather Tarr said. “But one game is one game. We’re a better team than we showed.”
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.