Florida Shuts Out Oregon and Alabama Blanks Kentucky in WCWS Written By Bill Plummer
OKLAHOMA CITY- It has been rare this season that the Oregon softball team, seeded No. 1 and ranked No. 1, has been shutout this season.
The Ducks, who entered the WCWS with a team batting average of .349, were shutout for just the second time this season on a season-low three hits while Florida collected four runs on eight hits Friday evening in the NCAA Women's College World Series at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium.
The three hits Oregon collected was its lowest of the season (previous low was four in a 3-1 10-inning win at UNLA on Feb. 14.
A day after hurling a one-hitter against Florida State, Oregon starter Cheridan Hawkins (34-5) took the loss after giving up four runs on five hits in 3 1/3 innings. She struck out three and walked two.
Florida pitcher Hannah Rogers limited the Ducks to only three hits as she improved to 28-8 this season, hurling her second compete-game in as many days. The senior walked one and struck out five in as Florida improved to 14-11 all-time in the WCWS and have outscored the opposition 64-4 in the 2014 NCAA postseason. They have posted seven shutouts in eight games.
Rogers was in complete control in throttling one of the nation's top offense teams. “I just feel very confident in locating my pitches right now,” Rogers said.
Oregon (55-8-1), champions of the Pac-12 Conference, came into the game ranked third in the NCAA in batting average (.349), seventh in slugging percentage (.536) and fourth in runs per game (6.98). Over the course of their season, the Ducks broke school records in all three of those categories, along with total hits (579), runs (438) and RBI.
Rogers now has hurled 28 innings of NCAA tournament softball without allowing a run (earned or otherwise). She allowed two ground-ball singles and a bunt that was about four feet in front of home plate.
Florida, which improved to 52-12 on the season, advances to the semifinals and will play Sunday at noon (CT). Oregon will face the winner of the Saturday afternoon contest between No. 6 seed Louisiana-Lafayette and No. 7 seed Oklahoma at 8:30 p.m. CT Saturday.
The Florida-Oregon contest was one of two winner's bracket games played Friday before a turnout of 9,062 with Alabama holding off a last inning rally by Kentucky to emerge with a 2-0 win behind senior hard-throwing right-hander Jaclyn Traina.
Kentucky loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh inning with no outs before Traina struck out Emily Gaines and got Krystal Smith to hit into an game-ending 6-4-3 double play to preserve the shutout. Traina won her 25th game of the season, allowing the Wildcats four hits while striking out five and walking three. Traina held a no-hitter with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning before UK sophomore Sylver Samuel reached on an infield single to the right side of the infield. Samuel was thrown out at second base trying to steal a few pitches later.
The only runs scored in the game came in the second inning when Leona Lafaele hit a two-run homer off losing pitcher Kelsey Nunley with Peyton Grantham aboard. Nunley (30-19) got the first two batters in the inning before Peyton Grantham singled to right field, with Lefaeke hitting her seventh homer of the season into the left field bleachers. It was the fourth homer she hit with two outs.
Nunley did not allow a hit the rest of the way and retired 16 of the next 18 batters she faced after the home run. She finished with five strikeouts , allowing two earned runs on three hits with two walks.She has limited opponents to two runs or less seven times this season..
Kentucky loaded the bases in the seventh inning after back-to-back-to-back singles from sophomore Nikki Sagermann, junior Griffin Joiner and senior Lauren Cumbess. UK could not cross the plate, however, striking out and grounding into a 6-4-3 double play to end the game.
Florida scored first in the opening game with a deep homer to left-center field by right fielder Bailey Castro leading off the second inning. It was her eighth homer of the season. In the third Castro came through again for the Gators with a two-out RBI single to left. The inning continued when Oregon second baseman Karine Shaver lost a ball in the sun hit by Briana Little, allowing a pair of runs to score.
After Hawkins allowed a walk and a single in the fourth inning, the Ducks pulled her and went with Karissa Hovinga. She gave up a single to load the bases but then retired the next two batters to end the threat. She gave up three hits and no runs while striking out four.
The games resume Saturday morning with Florida State facing Baylor at 11 a.m. followed by Louisiana-Lafayette versus Oklahoma at 1:30 p.m.
Bill Plummer A 1973 graduate of Indiana University, Ind. Bill has been involved in softball for more than five decades. For 30 years he was a fixture at the ASA National Office in Oklahoma City as a communications coordinator, manager of the ASA National Softball Hall of Fame and historian.
In addition, he also served as the editor of the ASA official newsletter, The Inside Pitch, and as the Trade Show manager. He has written widely about the sport and has contributed to 14 books. In 2008, he authored “The Game America Plays.” In 2012, he co-authored “Best of the Best-Women’s Fastpitch.” In 2013 he co-authored “A Series Of Their Own”. Visit his website at PlummerSoftball.com.
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