The Florida Gators remained hot in the Women's College World Series and Alabama had no response from the plate or from the field. Hannah Rogers was perfect through four innings and held the Crimson Tide scoreless, only giving up four hits on the night.
"I think I'm just confident right now and trusting my pitches and not trying to over think my pitches right now," Rogers said about her performance. Monday night was her third shutout of the Women's College World Series (Baylor, Oregon, Alabama) and when asked about how she's doing it, Rogers had a modest reply. "Just throwing it," she said, "and if it's going to get (hit) hard, at least I was confident throwing it and trusting in my defense."
Alabama Head Coach Patrick Murphy was offering praise to the Florida sophomore as well. "I thought Hannah was terrific tonight," Murphy said. "It was probably one of the best games she's pitched against us, but I think it's just continuation of her postseason."
Across the diamond Alabama's Jaclyn Traina fanned six Gator batters but was knocked for five runs. Having only given up nine hits through the first three games of the World Series, Florida recorded eight hits off of her on Monday night.
Aubree Munro led off the third inning with a solo home run to center field, breaking up what had been a pitcher's duel through the first two innings. The Gators added two more runs in the fifth when Kirsti Merritt knocked in Kelsey Stewart and then came home herself on a Stephanie Toft single to right field.
"I haven't been trying to hit home runs," Munro said about he shot that broke a scoreless tie. "I've been trying to make good contact, get the ball through the infield and things like that. I just saw a good pitch today and was able to drive it out."
The Gators shut the door on Alabama in the top of the seventh when Stewart and Merritt scored again. It was a near perfect night for Florida and Patrick Murphy knew it. "You know, there are three things that you need to win a high‑caliber softball game: great starting pitching, great team defense and you need to get the timely hits. They were 3 for 3 and we were 0 for 3, and I think that's the story of the game," he said.
Now Alabama finds themselves in a familiar position. After dropping the first game of the championship series in 2012, the Tide came back to win it all. Can they do it again in 2014? That remains to be seen but they do have experience on their side.
For Florida it was their first ever win in the championship series and the pressure seems to be on Rogers to lead them to their next, and final, one.
"She's lights out," Munro said about her starting pitcher. "That's all I can say. I can say it over and over again - she's lights out. She is on a mission and it's honestly guiding our whole team right now."