When Florida catcher Aubree Munro came to bat in the third inning against Alabama on Monday night, no player on either team had registered a hit.
As for Munro, she hadn’t hit a ball out since Feb. 14, when she hit home runs in both games of a doubleheader at the Easton Desert Classic. Those were her only home runs of the season.
But Munro lined one over the left field fence to jumpstart the Gators and show a rare burst of power. Munro had zero homers in 55 at-bats in 2013.
“This year has been important for me in terms of simplifying everything,” Munro said. “I haven’t been trying to hit home runs, I’ve been trying to make good contact, get the ball through the infield. I just saw my pitch today and was able to drive it out.”
ROGERS MAKES IT LOOK EASY
Florida ace Hannah Rogers (30-8) threw a complete seven innings in the Gators 5-0 win against Alabama on Monday, but it didn’t take all that much effort.
Rogers cruised through the game, throwing 80 pitches, 54 of which were strikes. She had three strikeouts and zero walks. She allowed four hits, but only one through the first four innings.
It was only the third time all season — and the first since Feb. 16 — the Crimson Tide has been shutout.
On the other side, Gator hitters made Alabama’s Jaclyn Traina (26-4) work. She threw 114 pitches in 61/3, 70 for strikes.
“That’s definitely the gameplan,” Florida coach Tim Walton said. “We want to make her throw deep into the count, we want her to make mistakes, but we also want to be aggressive. We’re patiently aggressive. If you throw first-pitch strike, we’re swinging.”
Traina and Rogers are the only two active SEC pitchers with more than 100 wins. They have pitched against each other since high school in Florida.
SWITCH TO ARMBAND HELPS ROGERS
Rogers and the Florida pitching staff switched to calling pitches with an armband system midway through the season, and it’s made a difference.
Rogers said the team thought it might be getting its signs stolen, so she suggested the Gators change up their call process. Now, Munro wears a wristband behind the plate with the calls and Rogers wears the same on her arm. Coaches generally call in the pitch, and both players have it, thus eliminating a step.
“I think people were reading our signs and picking things up that maybe we could have a little more control over,” Rogers said. “It also helps me when I’m pitching to focus on were I’m locating the pitch rather than just getting the pitch right when I’m stepping on the mound.”
’BAMA’S BEEN HERE BEFORE
Alabama coach Patrick Murphy obviously wanted to win Game 1 of the three-game series, but he said he’s not too worried that it didn’t happen.
The Crimson Tide lost Game 1 in 2012 against Oklahoma 4-1, but it rallied back to win the next two and the national title.
’Bama’s Kaila Hunt said now it’s about finding what went wrong and coming up with a specific plan to adjust. That happens to be exactly what the team did in 2012.
“Two years ago, the biggest difference going into Game 1 versus Game 2 was we had a plan,” Hunt said. “Our biggest thing is to go back to the hotel, see what the patterns were, what the adjustment is, find a plan, buy in to that plan and stick to it.”
WCWS STRIKES OUT CANCER
Southern Nazarene softball coach Tere Webber, a cancer survivor, threw out the first pitch before Monday’s game on Strike Out Cancer Night at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium.
Webber has won 284 games in 11 seasons as the Crimson Storm head coach and has also worked as an assistant for the women’s basketball program. She previously served as the softball and girls basketball coach at Yukon High School.
She was diagnosed with cancer two years ago and was given a clean bill of health 18 months ago.
Eleven-year-old Morgan White sang the National Anthem in honor of her great-grandfather, who died of cancer, and her cousin, who is currently in remission.
Cancer survivors were able to go on the field after the top of the third inning and received a standing ovation from the crowd of 7,608.
Wes Washburn, 8, from Weatherford, sang “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” before the sixth inning. Washburn, who dresses as “Cancer Man,” has raised more than $7,000 to fight cancer.
Walton: “We didn’t come here just to hang out and eat funnel cake. We came here to hang out, win and then eat funnel cake.”