No. 1 Florida Gators softball took care of business against the only team to hand it two losses this season, taking down the No. 5 LSU Tigers 4-0 in the second game of the 2015 Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City on Friday evening.
Florida (57-6) scored all of its runs off home runs and errors, going 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position while receiving a tremendous effort on the mound by senior right-handed pitcher Lauren Haeger (7.0 IP, 5 H, 4 K) that allowed it to edge LSU (51-13).
The Gators and Tigers both failed to capitalize with the bases loaded in the first inning.
Florida junior second baseman Kelsey Stewart (1/4) led off with a triple, extending her NCAA Tournament hit streak to 18 games, but was eventually stranded despite UF juicing the bags with just one out. With three straight hits, LSU had the bases full with no outs in the bottom frame, but a 5-2 force and impressive 6-3 double play (senior shortstop Katie Medina (0/0) made an athletic tag to nab the runner) kept things even at 0-0.
The Gators threatened again in the third inning with runners on second and third with two outs, but senior designated player Bailey Castro (0/2, BB) struck out after a long at bat, the second time she swung and missed with runners in scoring position on the evening.
Haeger did not falter when opportunity presented itself in the top of the fifth. After freshman left fielder Nicole DeWitt singled to open the frame, Haeger (1/3, HR, 2 RBI, R, BB) smacked the 70th home run of her career to left, pushing UF ahead 2-0.
DeWitt (2/4, HR, RBI, 2 R) added to Florida’s lead one inning later, turning a bad situation – a base running miscue and subsequent 6-3-5 double play cleared the bags – into a good one with a two-out homer over the right field wall, giving the Gators a 3-0 lead.
— NCAA Softball (@NCAAsoftball) May 30, 2015
Florida kept the pressure on in the seventh, kicking off the inning with back-to-back singles. A strikeout turned into a positive as an errant throw by LSU’s catcher, attempting to nab junior center fielder Kirsti Merritt while she attempted to steal third, allowed Merritt (3/3, R, 2 SB) to round the bag and score.
Though the Gators are now 2-for-18 with runners in scoring position during WCWS play and 9-for-57 in such situations during the 2015 NCAA Tournament, Florida’s tremendous pitching and defense has allowed them to go through the event outscoring opponents 26-2 with six shutouts in seven games.
UF advances to the semifinals of the WCWS and will not play again until Sunday at 1 p.m. in the double-elimination tournament.