In a battle of two of the nation’s top pitchers, it was Florida that quieted the Alabama bats, as the Gators shut out the Crimson Tide, 5-0, in the Women’s College World Series championship series opener.
Alabama (53-12) went hitless until the fifth inning and was shut out for just the third time this season, the first since back-to-back shutout losses at Arizona in early February. Jaclyn Traina (26-4) took the loss in the circle, throwing 6.1 innings with five runs, four earned, off eight hits while Leslie Jury got the final two outs in the top of the seventh in relief.
Florida (54-12) starter Hannah Rogers (30-8) continued her stellar weekend at the WCWS, throwing a complete-game shutout with just four hits allowed. The top four in the order accounted for six of the team’s eight hits, with the two, three and four-hole hitters combining to drive in all five runs.
In the top of the third inning, Florida’s Aubree Munro made the game’s first hit a big one, blasting a leadoff solo homer into left field to give the Gators a 1-0 lead. Kelsey Stewart would draw a walk and advance to second on a groundout but a lineout ended the half-inning with Florida in front by one.
Kirsti Merritt doubled the Gators’ lead in the top of the fifth, roping a two-out double to the center field wall to score Stewart from first and make it 2-0. Stephanie Tofft pulled the very next pitch into left field, scoring Merritt from second to make it 3-0. A fourth-straight hit put two on base but a groundout limited the damage though the Tide was now facing a three-run deficit.
Kaila Hunt erased Rogers’ no-hit bid in the bottom of the fifth, leading off the half-inning with a single up the middle. A force out at second base and a double play quickly ended Alabama’s half of the inning however, as the Tide couldn’t cut into the three-run deficit.
Florida threatened immediately in the top of the seventh, as Stewart hit a leadoff single and the throw on the ensuing sacrifice bunt attempt went wide, putting runners at the corners with nobody out. A stolen base moved two into scoring position and a long fly ball allowed both to move up a base, scoring one on the sacrifice fly to make it 4-0. A double to right field scored another as Florida moved ahead 5-0, ending Traina’s outing the circle as Alabama turned to Jury in relief. The junior did her job in relief, stopping the Florida rally as the Tide headed to the bottom-half of the seventh trailing 5-0.
Haylie McCleney earned Alabama’s second hit of the game to lead off the bottom of the seventh, but a 1-6-3 double play quickly brought Alabama down to its final out. Jadyn Spencer chopped a two-out single up the middle and Hunt followed that with a single into shallow right field, but a groundout ended it as Florida shut out Alabama, 5-0, in the opening game of the WCWS championship series.
Game two of the series will be played on Tuesday, June 3 at 7 p.m. CT and the game will be aired live on ESPN.
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