If someone told Gator head Coach Tim Walton before Saturday’s 2013 NCAA Tournament game against South Florida that junior pitcher Hannah Rogers would only surrender one hit in an 11-1 win against the Bulls, he would have been pleased.
If that win came with Rogers only having to go five innings due to an offensive onslaught evoking a mercy rule, Walton would have been ecstatic.
That’s exactly what happened.
Well, Rogers did hit two batters in the first inning and walked four on the day, but she also struck out six.
Walton says Rogers is a gamer.
The Bulls did manage to get one runner across home in the top of the first inning.
With the bases juiced and one out, Lee Ann Spivey hit a dribbler back to Rogers who flung the ball to Taylore Fuller at home for the force out. The freshman catcher was greedy and tried to get the double play at first. But she hit Spivey in the back and allowed South Florida’s Stephanie Medina to score.
Walton says Rogers made a great play going to home.
Florida drove in run after run in the first three innings, knocking Bulls star pitcher Sara Nevins out of the game after just 1.1 innings. Nevins entered the game with a 0.93 ERA.
The Gators’ rally was sparked by a three-run home run from Lauren Haeger in the bottom of the first inning. She ordered in another three runs with a bases-clearing double in the second inning and picked up her seventh RBI in the third when she was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
Haeger says she just tried to make contact.
Fuller got in on the long-ball action with a solo-lead-off home run in the second inning. That was her second blast in two days; she hit only two home runs all season.
Fuller says she’s been locked in at the plate.
Florida will play South Florida again today and needs to win just one more game for the Regional championship and the right to move on to the NCAA Super Regionals which will be played May 23-26.
Walton says he wants his team to stay focused.
With Rogers’ arm being spared an extra two innings, Walton could turn to his junior ace again Sunday for relief work out of the bullpen.