Florida senior Hannah Rogers, appearing in her third Women’s College World Series, threw a three-hitter and fifth-seeded Florida rolled to an 11-0, five-inning victory over No. 13 seed Baylor on Thursday in the NCAA softball championship tournament’s opening round.
Rogers (27-8) threw her fourth shutout of the postseason for the Gators The run-rule win over Baylor (47-15) was the fifth of the tournament for Florida (51-12).
Florida advanced to play today against the top-ranked Oregon, a 3-0 winner over Florida State. Baylor will face Florida State in an elimination game Saturday.
Two errors and a passed ball led to three unearned runs for Florida in the first off former Aledo standout Whitney Canion (31-11), who pitched the Bears into the national semifinals in 2011. Bailey Castro had the big hit for the Gators, a double that scored Lauren Haeger and Briana Little.
Never miss a local story.
“For our team to come out and get as many runs as we were able to get there early off of Whitney Canion, I thought that was pretty much the goal, because we know what their offense can do and has done,” Florida coach Tim Walton said.
Canion was chased in the fourth. Florida ended the game with no outs in the fifth when pinch-hitter Chelsea Herndon hit a walk-off grand slam to left-center field while facing her former high school teammate, Baylor reliever Heather Stearns. Both attended Hebron High School.
The loss was Baylor’s worst since falling 14-2 to Georgia three years ago to the day. Baylor hadn’t suffered a run-rule loss since losing 8-0 to Texas A&M to end the 2013 season.
“I feel like we were sucker-punched quick,” Baylor coach Glenn Moore said. “We didn’t respond. It was more of what we did to ourselves than it was Florida did to us. I thought they played a great game and we played maybe the worst game that I have been a part of coaching in four or five years. You just can’t play that way at this level and have a chance to win. We made mistakes all over our lineup.”
Against Rogers, Baylor managed only a third-inning leadoff single by Jordan Strickland and a pair of infield singles by Ari Hawkins and former Brock standout Linsey Hays in the fourth.
Jaclyn Traina threw a one-hitter, and Peyton Grantham and Jadyn Spencer homered in second-seeded Alabama’s victory over defending national champion Oklahoma.
Alabama (51-11), which beat the Sooners for the 2012 national title, will play Kentucky on Friday. The Southeastern Conference powers didn’t meet during the regular season or the league tournament.
Oklahoma’s only hit off Traina (24-3) was a solo home run by the third batter, Shelby Pendley.
Oklahoma (50-12) will play Louisiana-Lafayette in an elimination game Saturday.
•Oregon 3, Florida State 0:
Sophomore left-hander Cheridan Hawkins threw a one-hitter for the top-seeded Ducks (55-7-1) against the Seminoles (55-8).
Alexa Peterson had a pair of hits, including a run-scoring double for Oregon (55-7-1), which set a single-season program record for wins. The Ducks advanced to play Florida on Friday.
•Kentucky 4, Louisiana-Lafayette 1:
Kelsey Nunley threw a one-hitter, Lauren Cumbess homered and had an RBI double and Kentucky won the first Women’s College World Series game in program history, beating Louisiana-Lafayette 4-1 on Thursday night.
Kentucky (49-14), which won twice at longtime softball power UCLA in the super regional, posted its first win in five tries against Louisiana-Lafayette (49-9-1).
The Wildcats will play Alabama or defending national champion Oklahoma on Friday, while Louisiana-Lafayette will face the loser of the Alabama-Oklahoma game Saturday.
Lexie Elkins had the only hit against Nunley (30-9), slamming her 23rd home run of the season in the first inning. But the Louisiana-Lafayette never advanced a runner past second base after that.
Nunley outdueled Louisiana-Lafayette’s Christina Hamilton (29-3), who threw a five-hitter but saw her six-game winning streak end.
Cumbess was 3 for 3.