Win – Rogers (27-8). Loss – Canion (31-11). Save – None.
The opening game of the Women’s College World Series was one-sided to say the least. The Baylor Bears was a surprise entrant in the field of eight, and their road to a National Championship just became a lot more difficult.
In the first game of the day, the Bears were blasted by a redhot Florida Gators, 11-0, in five innings. The Gators have outscored their opponents this postseason 60-4.
“I think the Georgia loss humbled us,” Florida head coach Tim Walton said. “We had to reevaluate our offensive approach. And not just one hitter, but top to bottom. We went back and spent a couple of days evaluating where we were at and what we’re capable of. We’ve done a better job of hitting the ball on the ground.”
Things were no different Thursday morning. Gators pressed on the gas early, and Coach Walton’s team never let up.
Florida led got out to a big 3-0 lead in the first. Stephanie Tofft’s sac fly allowed Kirsti Merritt to score from third. Briana Little and Lauren Haeger picked up unearned runs thanks to a throwing error.
The Gators controlled the tempo and the early momentum would force Coach Glen Moore to pull his All-American pitcher Whitney Canion to rest up for Saturday’s elimination game.
“I had some pitches that sometimes they’re swung at throughout the year,” Canion said. “I didn’t throw a ton of pitches so that’s going to hopefully prepare us for Saturday.”
It was a beat down like no other, and to throw salt in the wound, Florida’s Chelsea Herndon smacked a walk-off grand slam to end the game in the fifth.
“I went up there with a clear mind and I was calm,” Herndon said following the game. “I wasn’t going to let the nerves get a hold of me and when I saw a good pitch I took a hack at it.”
The 11-0 victory advances Florida to Friday’s winner bracket game at 6 p.m. against either the top-seeded Oregon Ducks or Florida State Seminoles.
Florida head coach Tim Walton and a few Lady Gators were all smiles in their post game presser.
Coach Moore of Baylor was not as happy. Moore stated he believed the team will bounce back, but this was one of the worst games he’s seen his team play in his tenure.
“It was more what we did to ourselves than what Florida did to us,” Coach Moore said. “I thought they played a great game and we played maybe the worst game that I’ve been a part of coaching, I think in four or five years.”
Rightfully so, Florida smashed a Baylor team that snuck in with a sweep of the Georgia Bulldogs in Athens. The Bears will have a day off to regroup and prepare for their next game.