The Women's College World Series matchup between Florida and Alabama began on Monday, and the Gators were able to come away with a strong 5-0 win to start the best-of-three series.
|College Softball World Series Game 1|
Two SEC teams, the Florida Gators and Alabama Crimson Tide, are going head-to-head in this year's World Series. The Crimson Tide are looking to win their second World Series title after being the first SEC school to ever win the softball championship back in 2012.
Meanwhile, the Gators are looking to cap off a great turnaround season after imploding in the postseason last year. Head coach Tim Walton dismissed three starters before the tournament last year, and the Gators fell out of the postseason after losing at home in just a regional.
"The program was coming off sort of an interesting end [to the previous season], so Coach really came in and he wanted us to really appreciate being a Gator," Aubree Munro told Graham Hays of ESPNW.com. "When we came in, we didn't have anything that said Florida, anything with a Gator head on it. We had a blank orange and blue T-shirt for practice."
With two conference rivals in the World Series final, both teams looked to take home Game 1 to put the pressure on their opponent in the best-of-three series, but the Gators came out and shut the Crimson Tide down.
Alabama pitcher Jaclyn Traina was dialed in early and throwing with some heat, hitting 70 miles per hour multiple times in the first inning as she retired the side in the first inning in just 13 pitches.
Hannah Rogers was dialed in for the Gators, too, however, and kept the game scoreless until her teammate Munro was able to smash a home run to right field in the third inning. That hit put was the first run of the game to put Florida up 1-0, and it was also the first hit given up by Traina.
The Gators got to Traina again in the fifth, getting a few baserunners and a couple of runs thanks to an RBI double from Kirsti Merritt followed by an RBI single from Stephanie Tofft. Traina was able to limit the damage a bit, but her team was still down 3-0.
That lead gave Rogers even more of a cushion, and she was definitely dealing. After not allowing a hit in her first four innings, the Crimson Tide got their first baserunner in the fifth inning, but a 5-4-3 double play quickly ended the inning before Alabama could get anything going.
As Rogers continued to dominate, Washington senior outfielder Victoria Hayward tweeted about how difficult it is to deal with her.
In the seventh and final inning, the Gators made sure to seal the win with another two runs on Traina, forcing the Crimson Tide to pull their pitcher and replace her with Leslie Jury. Jury was able to end the inning, but things were not looking good for Alabama.
The Crimson Tide were able to get their second hit of the day off of a Haylie McCleney single in the seventh, but once again, the Gators came right back and got another double play. After a couple of hits with two outs, Rogers finally got the groundout to end the game.
It was an impressive overall night from Rogers, who pitched a complete game with just four hits allowed with three strikeouts and plenty of groundouts. Now, Rogers is 4-0 with a 0.86 ERA during the World Series. New York Jets wide receiver and former Florida Gator David Nelson was obviously impressed with Rogers' performance.
The two teams will play again on Tuesday night, and if the Gators can win, they'll be national champions. Rogers will be looking to have another shutdown performance, but Traina will be looking to keep Alabama alive and turn things around after a surprisingly rough performance.