In a game that lasted 7+ hours because of severe weather delays and a camera protest (which I'll get to later), the Florida Gators softball team prevailed over the Washington Huskies by a mercy-rule score of 8-0 to advance to the 5th Women's College World Series in program history.
Senior Hannah Rogers got what could have been her last collegiate start on the mound for this do or die Game 3 of the Super Regionals. She was superb as she pitched a complete game 1 hit shut out. She fanned six Huskie batters.
The Gators scored the first run of the game on a 2 out RBI single by Briana Little that scored Kelsey Stewart in the bottom of the first inning. Stewart would make her presence felt again in the fourth inning as she smacked a three run home run over the right field fence to boost the UF lead to 4-0. The biggest shot of the day however, would come from Kirsti Merrit. In the bottom of the 5th inning, representing the game ending run, Merrit drove a pitch high and deep over the left field wall to give the Gators the 8-0 win and send them to Oklahoma City. Needless to say I was thrilled at the result.
After being at the field since 12 p.m., the Gators walked off (literally) victorious. Despite two separate delays due to weather and a 13 minute protest over a camera in centerfield, the Gators were able to keep their composure and close out the game in convincing fashion. My hat goes off to them for remaining focused in spite of all the distractions.
Speaking of the camera incident, here's what happened. After the first pitch of the fifth inning, Washington head coach Heather Tarr came out to talk the umpires. Next thing I knew, there were a ton of officials out on the field and the game was stopped again. This was right after the second rain delay of the game. Tarr protested that the Gators were allegedly using a camera situated in the outfield to stream a live feed somewhere else in the ballpark. I didn't completely understand it, and nothing came out of it except that one of the guys running the camera had to close his laptop.
The Gators will be heading to Oklahoma City as they seek to bring the first softball National Championship to Gainesville. Returning a battle-tested squad that made it all the way to the WCWS last year, look for the Gators to make a deep run this time around. Their first game will be on May 29th. Their opponent and game time are yet to be determined.
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