After knocking on the door several times at the Women’s College World Series, the Florida softball program finally broke it down Tuesday night, winning the program’s first softball national title with a 6-3 win over Alabama in Oklahoma City.
Gator coach Tim Walton rolled the dice Tuesday night, not starting senior ace Hannah Rogers in the circle despite the fact that Rogers has pitched lights out in the postseason. Walton told ESPN 850 WRUF yesterday that the coaching staff was mulling over whether to start Rogers after her complete game victory on Monday because Walton said at times Rogers has struggled when pitching in back to back games.
So Walton started junior Lauren Haeger who immediately fell behind 1-0 in the first inning. However, Florida tied the score in the bottom of the inning on a Stephanie Tofft home run.
In the second inning, Florida knocked out Alabama starting pitcher Jaclyn Traina. Kelsey Stewart drove in a Gator run with a single and then UF outfielder Kirsti Merritt hit a long three run homer to give the Gators a 5-1 lead.
Walton replaced Haeger with another pitcher not used in the World Series final in freshman Delanie Gourney who held Alabama scoreless after Haeger gave up a solo homer to cut Florida’s lead to 5-2. After pitching two scoreless innings, Gourley gave way to Rogers who finished out the game, allowing one run.
Rogers was named the Most Outstanding Player of the World Series. The Gators end their magical year at 53-13.
There will a celebration for the Gator softball team when they come home from Oklahoma City today at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium. Gates will open at 5pm and admission will be free as the team is expected to arrive shortly after that time.