Monday June 2, 2014One Win Away: Gators Defeat Alabama in Game 1 of WCWS Championship Series
Gators catcher Aubree Munro, No. 1, is greeted at home after her third-inning home run Monday.
OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Gators did something Monday night they had never done: win a game in the WCWS Championship Series.
If they can win one more, they will claim their first national championship.
The Gators (54-12) got it done in their 5-0 Game 1 victory over SEC-rival Alabama the way they have all postseason: solid defense, timely hitting and the right arm of starter Hannah Rogers.
Rogers tossed a four-hit shutout to improve to 7-0 with a 0.50 ERA (42 IP, 3 ER) in this year's NCAA Tournament, including six shutouts.
She carried the same mentality into Monday's start against longtime rival Jaclyn Traina as her previous outings.
"We worked hard all season to get here,'' Rogers told ESPN immediately after the game. "Just keep locating my pitches and stay low in the zone and using my defense."
Rogers did that and more in outdueling Traina, Alabama's ace who was chased from the game in the top of the seventh. Traina lost for only the fourth time (26-4) all season, allowing eight hits, five runs in 6 1/3 innings. She struck out six and walked three.
However, Rogers was the dominant pitcher Monday. She struck out three and walked none, facing just two batters over the minimum for her 30th win of the season.
Florida catcher Aubree Munro provided all the offense the Gators would need with a solo home run into the left-field bleachers at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in the third inning.
The Gators provided Rogers some wiggle room in the fifth with a two-out rally that started with a bunt single by Kelsey Stewart. Kirsti Merritt drove Stewart home with a double and Merritt scored on an RBI single from Stephanie Tofft.
Alabama (53-12) broke up Rogers' perfect game in the bottom of the fifth on a single to center by Kaila Hunt.
The hit did not faze Rogers, whose crisp location kept the Crimson Tide off balance throughout the game. Rogers quickly worked out of any trouble with the help of a 5-4-3 double play to end the inning. The Gators turned another double play -- their fifth of the tournament -- to help offset three Alabama hits in the bottom of the seventh.
The Gators added a pair of insurance runs in the seventh on an RBI sacrifice fly by Tofft and an RBI double by Lauren Haeger.
Florida, making its third appearance in the WCWS Championship Series, was 0-4 and had been outscored 32-8 in its previous two trips.
Game 2 is scheduled Tuesday night at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.
--Munro's HR is her first since Feb. 14, when she went yard in each game of a doubleheader at the Easton Desert Classic in Las Vegas.
--The Gators did not make an error for the fourth consecutive WCWS games. Florida is the only team with a perfect fielding percentage in Oklahoma City.
--The announced attendance at Monday night's Game 1 was 7,608.
--Bailey Castro drew two walks, marking her 10th game this season with multiple free passes; the junior ranked second on the team in walks (41) entering Monday (Haeger– 43).
--Justine McLean stole her third base of the NCAA Tournament, taking sole possession of second place on the team (Stewart – 6).
--Florida is perfect on 16 stolen-base attempts during the tournament; the Gators’ last caught-stealing was May 4 at Arkansas.
--Rogers retired 19 consecutive batters dating back to Sunday’s game vs. Baylor prior to Hunt's single.
--Stewart extended her hitting streak to 10 games since May 16 (every game of the NCAA Tournament).
--Merritt’s double marked her fourth extra-base hit of the tournament; she is tied with Stewart and Haeger for the team lead in extra-base hits in NCAA play this year.
--Tofft’s RBI single marked her ninth RBI of the tournament, tying her with Stewart, Merritt and Schwarz for second on the team (Haeger -- 11).
Check back with GatorZone.com later for more extensive coverage of Game 1 of the WCWS Championship Series.