Women's College World Series: Oregon can't solve Florida's Hannah Rogers
The Oregon Ducks are in Oklahoma City, Okla. for the 2014 Women's College World Series but after their first two games they have gotten a pretty good taste of what the state of Florida has to offer. Today, they probably didn't like it. One day after shutting out No. 8 Florida State, the Ducks faced No. 5 Florida, the team that knocked out Washington in the super regionals, and their leader in the circle, Hannah Rogers. After seven dominant inning, Rogers and the Gators left no doubt and continued their march through the winner's bracket with a 4-0 win. The Ducks now will have to rise out of the loser's bracket and win an elimination game against Louisiana-Lafayette or Oklahoma Saturday beginning at 6:30 p.m. PT.
While the Ducks are the No. 1 team in the land, the No. 5 Gators may be the hottest team in the country. Coming in to today's game, Florida had won six games this postseason, all shutouts, and only lost once. Their run differential was an astounding +60. This was also a rematch of a regular season meeting between these two teams from back in February. Today wasn't going to be easy for either team. Not with the ridiculous pitching talent on display. Cheridan Hawkins took the ball for the Ducks a day after spinning a gem against Florida State. For Florida, their ace Hannah Rogers and her scoreless-innings streak took the circle.
[Highlights: Oregon shut out by Florida]
Both starters breezed through the first inning but Hawkins ran into trouble when she left a pitch over the plate to Florida's Bailey Castro. She crunched a solo homer to dead center to put the Gators on top 1-0 in the top of the second. In the bottom half, Koral Costa rapped a one-out single which got erased as Alexa Peterson grounded into an inning-ending double play.
Castro struck again in the top of the third. Her two-out single to left scored Kelsey Stewart, who led off the inning with a single, and put Florida up two. Castro would finish the day 3-for-4 with two RBI's. The biggest blow would for the Gators would come on an unfortunate Duck slip.
After Castro's RBI single, Hawkins looked like she had gotten Oregon out of the inning as Briana Little hit an innocent pop fly out to second. Karine Shaver started to backpedal but slipped and fell when she went from the infield dirt to the outfield grass. She managed to get up in time to lunge for the ball but it was too late. It fell just out of her reach and with two outs the two Gator baserunners were moving on contact and easily scored to double their lead to 4-0.
Hawkins got Aubree Munro to fly out to begin the fourth but proceeded to walk Katie Medina before Stewart singled up the middle. Coach Mike White pulled Hawkins at that point in favor of junior Karissa Hovinga, who turned in a great relief outing. She finished off the game for Oregon and ended up throwing 3.2 innings, allowing only three hits while striking out four Gators. Hawkins' lasted 3.1 innings and gave up four earned runs on 5 hits. It wasn't her sharpest outing but she should be rested and ready for Oregon's elimination game tomorrow.
Meanwhile, Hannah Rogers was in cruise control despite the Ducks' best efforts.
— NCAA Softball (@NCAAsoftball) May 31, 2014
She entered the game with a 26-inning scoreless streak and did nothing to put it in jeopardy. She retired the Ducks in order in the fourth and in the sixth, thanks to another inning-ending double play. She even ended the game herself, catching Costa's pop fly just outside the circle to end the game. Her pitching line for the day: 7 innings, three hits, one walk, five strikeouts.
[Related: 2014 Women's College World Series bracket]
Besides Hovinga in relief, the Ducks defense was the other bright spot on the day. You can chalk up Shaver's drop to an unlucky slip but Janie Takeda's sliding catch in foul territory down the left field line in the third and Costa's head-long diving snag in center in the sixth? Pure skill. The Ducks definitely brought their gloves to the WCWS.
Tomorrow, they will need to bring their bats as well as they face either Louisiana-Lafayette or Oklahoma in an elimination game slated for 6:30 p.m. PT.