Florida’s powerful offense showed its teeth early in the Women’s College World Series on Thursday.
The Gators collected nine hits with two home runs on their way to an 11-0 five-inning win over Baylor in the Game 1 of the WCWS at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium.
Sophomore Kirsti Merritt had two hits, including a leadoff homer in the third inning, and pinch-hitter Chelsea Herndon finished off the five-inning victory with a walk-off grand slam.
The Bears got just three hits over five innings off senior pitcher Hannah Rogers, who improved to 27-8 on the season.
“I think the way I’ve been pitching lately has given me that confidence to just go out there and shut it down,” Rogers said. “Also, how good our offense is doing right now as well allows you to just go out and have fun and just do what you do.”
Herndon’s grand slam came off her former Hebron (TX) High School teammate Heather Stearns, who pitched 2/3 of an inning in relief of starter Whitney Canion.
Florida (51-12) has now posted shutouts in six of its seven postseason wins, and handed Baylor (47-16) its first run-rule defeat this season.
“For our team to come out and get as many run as we were able to get early off Whitey Canion, I thought that was the goal because we know what their offense can do,” said Florida coach Tim Walton. “I give our kids a lot of credit. I can’t say enough about the job Hannah did. (She) just went out and challenged the strike zone and really pitched well with all pitches.”
Stephanie Tofft, Bailey Castro, and Aubree Munro hit doubles as Florida had all five of the games extra-base hits. All-American Kelsey Stewart added an RBI single.