Of her last 47 innings pitched, Florida’s Hannah Rogers has allowed teams to score in just one of them.
Considering that spans the Southeastern Conference Tournament, the early rounds of the NCAA Tournament and now the Women’s College World Series, it’s fair to say Rogers has been pretty sharp lately.
Rogers allowed only four hits in a 5-0 victory over Alabama in the first game of the best-of-3 WCWS championship series Monday night before a crowd of 7,608 at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium to give the Gators a one-game series lead.
“It’s unbelievable. She’s been lights-out,” Florida catcher Aubree Munro said. “She’s on a mission and honestly, it’s guiding our whole team right now.”
Behind Rogers, Florida’s defense remained immaculate, playing an error-free game and turning two crucial double plays — one in the seventh inning when it looked like Alabama might be starting a late rally.
But Rogers has been nearly untouchable the last five days, and that’s the biggest reason Florida is one win away from its first national title.
“The off-speed pitch is key,” Florida coach Tim Walton said. “Probably about the three-quarter point in the season, that’s been the turning point for her, when she’s been able to locate that she hasn’t had in the three and three-quarters years before that.”
Munro ignited the offense with a third-inning home run, only her third of the year. Then the Gators added two runs each in the fifth and seventh innings to provide plenty of padding down the stretch.
The Gators got six hits and four runs batted in from the top four batters in the lineup — all off Alabama’s Jaclyn Traina, who had allowed only one earned run in the previous three games.
Florida was 0-4 all-time in the WCWS championship series before Monday, getting swept by Washington in 2009 and Arizona State in 2011.
“You can tell by my voice that I’m not really very excited yet, because there’s really nothing to be excited about,” Walton said. “We’ve won one game. It’s a race to two in this series. We get that ‘W’ tomorrow, you’ll hear a different voice.”
On the other side, it’s a different perspective. Alabama was in this same situation, down 1-0 to Oklahoma in the 2012 championship series and came back to beat the Sooners.
“Two years ago, this is exactly what happened, too, so we’re not too worried,” Tide coach Patrick Murphy said. “We’d like to win the first one, but since we won it when we lost the first one last time, it’s not a really big deal to us.”