After shaky starts on Saturday, pitchers Hannah Rogers and Sara Nevins were both outstanding in their outings Sunday afternoon. Rogers came out pounding the strike zone, striking out two of the first three batters she faced. Rogers has been dominant lately and shut down the Bulls offense all game long, allowing no runs on just three hits and five strikeouts on the day.
Walton was proud of the way his starting pitcher played today after taking time to find her groove yesterday. “She threw the ball a little more through the zone today,” Walton said. “I felt like she was trying to miss bats a little bit yesterday, more so then she was today. Today she was coming out and really throwing the ball with more of a late break to it.”
Nevins also looked like the ace she is today, as she made quick work through the Gator lineup early on. The game turned into the pitchers duel we all expected to see one day earlier when Florida roughed up USF to the tune of 11 runs. Both starting pitchers took no hitters heading to the fourth inning before the Gators took advantage of some mistakes by Nevins.
Some smart at bats gave the Lady Gators bases loaded with just one out. Taylor Schwarz carefully picked out pitches and earned a walk to bring Kelsey Merritt across the plate from third for the first run of the game. The next batter, Taylore Fuller, took a ball on the elbow to bring another home and make it 2-0 Gators despite failing to record a hit up to that point. Two runs was all Rogers needed to earn the W today.
In a game that only feature four total hits, the difference was walks and hit batters. USF’s Sarah Nevins picked apart the Gators for much of the day, throwing a no-hitter for 5 2/3 innings before being pulled following a walk and hit batter. In total, Nevins hit two batters and allowed six total walks in the 2-0 loss to the Lady Gators.
A stellar outing by all accounts, Rogers was equally brilliant on the mound today and simply made fewer mistakes than her USF counterpart. Coach Walton noted the effort by both pitchers afterwards, “Both pitchers today really commanded the strike zone and were ahead of batters.”
Despite the win, the Gators didn’t manage to earn a hit until a Kelsey Stewart line drive to left in the seventh. That being said, few pitchers in the country can present the threat that Nevins can.
Florida advanced to four straight Super Regionals before being shut out by USF in 2012 Regional action. A different result the second time around, a return to the second round this year is special to Gator coach Tim Walton. A team with low expectations heading into the season, Walton will always remember the tenacity shown by his young team to get to this point.
“This is a huge accomplishment. This is gonna go down as one of the best jobs a team has done with so many question marks going into the season,” a heartfelt Tim Walton said about his team afterwards. “So many new starters. This is one of the most gratifying feelings I’ve felt in a long time.”
Florida will host Super Regional action next weekend here in Gainesville. Hannah Rogers was thrilled about the opportunity to play again in front of the home crowd, “It’s exciting. We get to go out there and play for the fans and play for ourselves, our teammates. We just get to go out and continue to have fun.” The Gators will square off against the winner of the UCLA vs. UAB match up out of the Louisville Regional.