By Jordan McPherson — OnlyGators.com Contributor
Senior right-handed pitcher Hannah Rogers is taking no prisoners in the 2014 NCAA Tournament, turning in another brilliant shutout performance to propel the No. 5 seed Florida Gators over the No. 1 seed Oregon Ducks 4-0 on Friday in the second round of the Women’s College World Series.
Rogers (7.0 IP, 3 H, 5 K, BB) faced just two batters above the minimum against Oregon (55-8-1) as she registered her 40th career solo shutout and extended her streak of consecutive scoreless innings to 33 – including 28-straight in NCAA Tournament play.
Florida (52-12) has now shutout its opponent in seven of eight NCAA Tournament games and is outscoring its adversaries 64-4 in that span.
“I’m just competing against myself,” Rogers said in a postgame interview on ESPN2. “[I’m] just throwing my pitches and throwing what I’ve always known to do.”
While the Gators stymied the Ducks on offense — handing the event’s top seed just its second shutout of the season — UF had no trouble finding success at the plate.
Junior right fielder Bailey Castro (3/4, HR, 2 RBI, 2 R) got things started in the second inning when she led off the top frame with a solo homer. She came around again in the next inning and ripped a two-out RBI single to left field, sending sophomore second baseman Kelsey Stewart (2/3, R, SB) home to score.
The bases were cleared one batter later as junior left fielder Briana Little (1/3, 2 RBI) registered a two-run double after Oregon 2B Karine Shaver dropped a pop up. Castro and sophomore center fielder Kirsti Merritt (2/3, R, BB) crossed the plate, increasing Florida’s lead to 4-0 through three innings.
Ducks RHP Cheridan Hawkins (3.1 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 3 K, 2 BB) got pulled in the fourth as the Gators roughed up yet another opposing ace. Though RHP Karissa Hovinga (3.2 IP, 3 H, 4 K) was brilliant in relief, it was too little too late for Oregon.
The Gators must now wait for the two WCWS elimination games to end before they find out who their opponent will be on Sunday in the event semifinals. Florida is one victory away from advancing to the WCWS Championship Series for the first time since 2011.