“Michigan Forces if Necessary Game With 1-0 Win Over Florida” Written By Bill Plummer
OKLAHOMA CITY – The if necessary game will be necessary to decide the 2015 NCAA Division One softball champion.
With a Military and Public Service Appreciation night crowd of 8,254 looking on, Michigan was a different team from yesterday and shutout the defending national champion Florida Gators, 1-0 behind pitcher Haylie Wagner to force Wednesday's if necessary game and shut out Florida for the first time this season.
Wagner, who hadn't allowed any runs in her previous 13 innings, blanked the Gators on six hits while striking out five and walking none. She hurled 81 pitches in getting her 25 th win of the season against two losses and hand Florida its first loss in the WCWS qnd seventh of the season in 66 games.
Florida pitcher Lauren Haeger was the losing pitcher, allowing four hits in suffering her first loss in the WCWS this year and only her second loss of the season with 31 wins. Haeger fanned one and walked one in a 68 pitch performance in one of the quickest played games in the WCWS in recent memory, taking 1:33 minutes.
Michigan was a different team Tuesday attacking and going after Haeger right from the outset and it paid off in the bottom of the first inning after the Gators went down in order in the top of the inning.
Sierra Lawrence singled to left field to start the inning against Haeger with Sierra Romero getting aboard on a fielder's choice when the throw from shortstop to second was late to get Lawrence for what appeared to be a force out. After an out, Kelsey Susalla singled up the middle to score Lawrence with the first Michigan run of the game.
Holding a one-run lead, the Gators stranded five base runners to four for Michigan and got Heager to third in the second with two out as Wagner bore down and fanned catcher Aubree Munro for the third out of the inning.
After that Florida (59-7) never got a runner that far and twice got runners to second base in the fourth and sixth innings but were unable to deliver the key hit to bring across the runner. Both teams played error less ball with Michigan stopping a Gator threat on a double play when Michigan shortstop Abby Ramierz snagged Justine McLean's liner in the fifth inning then threw across the diamond to third base to get the sliding runner, pinch runner Chelsa Herndon with Michigan third baseman Lindsay Montemarano applying the tag.
After scoring the run in the bottom of the first Heager allowed only a pair of hits the remainder of the game with the Wolverines leaving three base runners. Wagner got as far as third in the second inning leading off with a single. She moved around on a sacrifice and a ground out before Heager struck out Lawrence to end the inning.
Lawrence was the only Michigan player with at least two hits as she doubled to open the fifth before Sierra Romero grounded out shortstop to first base. Lawrence was running on the play, however, and Gator first baseman Taylor Schwarz fired a strike to third baseman Taylor Fuller who tagged the sliding Lawrence. On the play Michigan coach Carol Hutchins had her right hand out indicating she wanted an obstruction call but it was to no avail and ended the Michigan threat.
Wagner was outstanding and in the seventh inning fanned two of the three batters to give Michigan another chance at winning its second national title. Florida also is seeking its second national title having gone undefeated last year.
With the crowd Tuesday night attendance is now 70,393 and will only add to that total Wednesday.
|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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