The Florida Softball team now finds itself two wins away from a berth in the Women’s College World Series as they get set to take on the University of Alabama-Birmingham Blazers in the Super Regional round of the NCAA tournament this weekend. The two teams will clash at Katie Seashole-Pressly stadium in a best of 3 matchup.
One of the elements that both teams bring to the table is dominant pitching. Pitchers Alyssa Bache, Lauren Haeger and Hannah Rogers have been integral to the success of Florida’s team, but last weekend in the Regional round it was Rogers who clinched the spot in the Super Regionals. Rogers shut out USF Sunday in a dominating showing in the circle. Rogers, the junior from Lake Wales, FL, has impressed Florida coach Tim Walton who says her sharp pitching instinct has led to success this year.
The Gators have rolled off six wins in a row since losing to South Carolina on May 4. Opposing them, though, are the Blazers, whose softball program has experienced enormous success this year under the leadership of head coach Marla Townsend. The Blazers are coming off their first 40 win season in team history and also their first Super Regional in team history. Their pitching is a three-headed monster; the trio of Lauren Webster, Lannah Campbell, and Leigh Streetman. They have been nothing short of dominant; none of them has an ERA over 2.20. Townsend says each pitcher brings a unique approach to the table.
For the fifth time, UF will play the Super Regional round on its home turf, having only gone on the road once in 2007. Walton doesn’t believe the Gators will take their foot off the gas against a relatively inexperienced UAB team because of the approach the Gators take.
The Gators and Blazers will take to the field at 1PM Saturday for Game 1, and they’ll play Game 2 Sunday. If necessary, a third game will be played Sunday at 3. For UAB, Townsend believes they’ll be ready, partly due to their resiliency built from a couple of close losses early in the season.
With Oklahoma City on the mind for both teams, Walton doesn’t deny it’s been talked about in the locker room; but he made sure the team understands there’s the task at hand that comes first.
With only one ticket to punch, Walton and the Gators will try to harness their home field advantage and get to the Women’s College World Series.