“Gators Repeat as NCAA WCWS Softball Champion's 2015” Written By Bill Plummer
OKLAHOMA CITY — After being shutout the night before, the Florida Gators came back with a vengeance Wednesday night before a crowd of 7,680 to defeat Michigan in the final game of the NCAA Championship Series and win the 34th annual Women's College World Series, 4-1.
Pitcher Lauren Haeger allowed one run and scattered five hits as the Gators repeated as national champion and became only the third team to repeat, joining UCLA and Arizona. Haeger was named the Most Outstanding Player of the WCWS and also won the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year and is only the third player to win both awards. She finished the year 32-2.
Haeger compiled a 4-1 mound record in the Series allowing six earned runs in 36 innings. She also batted .571 hitting three homers, driving in six runs and walking six times as the Gators finished the year 60-7. It marked the third year out of the last four years that an SEC team has won the WCWS.
“When you work hard good things happen to you,” said Haeger.”I am so thankful to be a Gator. It's been a great time.”
In repeating as national champion, Florida joined UCLA and Arizona with Arizona winning in 2006-07.
“We used it as motivation,” said Haeger.”We realize this isn't going to be handed to us and we really needed to work hard. Michigan is a great team. And we just had a different attitude today. You could see it in our eyes. You could see it in each other, you will hear it in our conversations. We were a different team. We were who we are today. And I couldn't be more proud of my teammates.”
In Tuesday's loss Michigan attacked early and scored the game's only run in the first inning. On Wednesday, the Gators turned the tables and scored three times in the bottom of the first and once in the second for all the runs they would need. Michigan scored a run in the fifth on an RBI single to center field by second baseman Sierra Romero with two out.
In the first, the Gators scored an RBI single by Haeger and a two-run single to left field by Taylor Schwarz, scoring Haeger and and Nicole DeWitt. In the second, the Gators added another run on an RBI double by Kelsey Stewart to left field scoring Justine McLean, who had singled to open the inning, went to second on a throwing error by the third baseman and advanced to third on a sacrifice by Aubree Munro.
“That first inning obviously broke our back,” said Michigan head coach Carol Hutchins.
Haylie Wagner, who had shut out the Gators Tuesday evening, took the loss and finished the year 25-3. She allowed four hits and four runs. She didn't strike out or walk anyone. Wagner was relieved by Megan Betsa who hurled four innings allowing only one hit and no runs. She walked three and struck out eight.Michigan finished the year 60-8 and was seeking its second NCAA national title after winning in 2005.
Michigan had five players named to the All Tournament team including Wagner, Kelsey Susalla, Sierra Romero, Kelly Christner and Abby Ramirez. Florida had Aubree Munro, Kelsey Stewart and Haeger. Joining them were Carlee Wallace and Branndi Melero of Auburn, and Ally Carda of UCLA.
The attendance Wednesday upped the overall attendance to a record 78,078 breaking the previous mark of 75,960 in 2012. Four of the ten sessions in the 2015 WCWS also were records and the attendance for the third game was the fourth highest. This was only the fourth time that the WCWS reached the third game.
|Bill Plummer A graduate of Indiana University, Ind. Bill has been involved in softball for more than four decades. For 30years he was a fixture at the ASA National Office 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 2009, he authored “The Game America Plays.” In 2012, he co-authored “Best of the Best-Women’s Fastpitch.” In 2014, ” A Series of Their Own. The History of the Women's College World Series.” He has been elected to five halls of fame, including the ASA National. In 1996, he served as the Information Manager for the debut of softball in the Olympics.|
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