The action at the 2014 College Softball World Series continued Friday in Oklahoma City with Day 2 of play, which saw all four winners from the previous day battle for two coveted semifinal spots.
None of the four teams that played Friday can be upset with starting 1-0 in the double-elimination tournament, but two were defeated on Day 2 and thus are one loss away from elimination. Meanwhile, the two winners saw their way into the semifinals on each side of the bracket as they await foes out of the losers' bracket.
It was more of the same dominance for some teams, while others fell flat and now have their backs against the wall.
Let's break down all of the results from Friday in Oklahoma City.
|2014 College Softball World Series: Day 2|
|5||Florida 4, Oregon 0|
|6||Alabama 2, Kentucky 0|
Day 2 Recap
Florida 4, Oregon 0
All season, Florida has boasted the perfect blend of dominant pitching and timely batting, and it has willed the Gators to win after win. There was no better indication of that than Friday.
Gators pitcher Hannah Rogers tossed yet another shutout—her fifth of the postseason alone—and Oregon's bats could not keep up. Meanwhile, Bailey Castro was connecting her bat to the ball on nearly every time up to the plate to inject life into Florida's offense.
Castro's one-run home run in the second broke a scoreless tie, and the Gators didn't look back. She would knock in another run for two RBI on the afternoon and score another run herself before she was done.
But the big story surrounding Florida's recent dominance hasn't been centered around the offense.
Instead, Rogers' pitching prowess is stealing the show. Friday was her second consecutive three-hit shutout, with the second coming just one day prior in an 11-0 win over Baylor to open up the CWS.
OnlyGators.com capped up just how dominant she's been in recent outings:
Truly elite teams have shown the ability over the years in Oklahoma City to ride one pitcher primarily all the way to a championship, but the miles can wear on even the best of arms. That's why Florida's second win in as many days is all the more crucial.
With the victory, the Gators can rest up on Saturday and get ready for a 1 p.m. ET showdown on Sunday, June 1, against whoever advances to face them in the semifinals. That will give Rogers the chance to be ready to go for the crucial semifinal, or they could possibly even rest her and hope to save her for Game 1 of the championship series if all goes well.
Oregon's loss puts the Ducks' backs against the wall. After beating Florida State in Thursday's opener, Friday's defeat means they will wait to face the winner of Oklahoma and Louisiana-Lafayette in the Saturday night cap.
Alabama 2, Kentucky 0
With all three SEC teams in the College World Series advancing to the winners' bracket and playing Friday, it was apparent that two of them would be pegged up against one another.
Alabama and Kentucky were the two, and it was a day of success for the school that has been here before as the Crimson Tide outlasted the Wildcats, 2-0.
The Wildcats surprised by beating 11-time national champion UCLA en route to the College World Series, and their improbable run continued Thursday with a 4-1 victory over Louisiana-Lafayette. But it came to a screeching halt against Alabama.
The Tide nearly jumped on the board in the first inning, and when the second inning came around, one hit changed the trajectory of the game for good, per Alabama Softball:
Leona Lafaele's two-run homer would end up being all she wrote on offense for the entire game. The next five innings were scoreless.
Kentucky never made a serious surge with its bats throughout the game, and Alabama has a familiar name—Jaclyn Traina—to thank for that.
Traina first made waves as a sophomore in 2012 by pitching Alabama to its first national championship, and she's been the Tide's ace ever since. She was never better than on Friday, when she pitched a no-hitter through five innings and gave up her only four hits in the final two frames.
Even after giving up all her hits late, Traina still closed out the complete-game shutout.
It's starting to look more and more like 2012 for Alabama softball. Traina is pitching at an unbelievable level, and if she keeps it up, Alabama will only need a couple of runs per game to keep on advancing.
Meanwhile, Kentucky's backs are now against the wall. The Wildcats will play the winner of Baylor and Florida State, with the loser being eliminated and the victor needing to beat Florida twice to advance to the championship series.
But even though the Wildcats' road to the final is improbable, they haven't stopped believing, per their official Twitter feed:
The Tide advanced to the semis with their victory and will await whoever comes out of the Oregon-Oklahoma-Lafayette draw with one win there pushing them to the final.
On Kentucky's end of things, one more loss will force the Wildcats to see their fairy-tale run to the CWS come to an end.