Florida eliminates Nebraska with 9-8 victory after 15-inning marathon
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Lauren Haeger and Jessica Damico scored on shortstop Alicia Armstrong's fielding error in the 15th inning, and No. 2 seed Florida eliminated Nebraska from the Women's College World Series with a 9-8 victory Saturday night.
Armstrong was able to get in front of Taylore Fuller's sharp grounder up the middle, but it hopped up and hit her before careening into center field.
The 14th-seeded Cornhuskers (45-16) scored once in the bottom of the 15th, but their chance for a third tying rally ended with Tatum Edwards getting called out at third base when her foot came off the bag after she touched it ahead of the initial tag.
"I don't know that you could ask for anything more if you're a fan and I know that you couldn't ask for anything more as a coach on either side, in either dugout," Cornhuskers coach Rhonda Revelle said. "It's a shame that someone has to lose that, but I don't really feel like anybody lost it because both teams just fought tooth and nail."
Nebraska had scored three times in the seventh to force extra innings, and Taylor Edwards tied it again in the 10th with a home run to match Briana Little's solo shot in the top half of the inning.
It ended up as the fifth game to go 15 innings or longer at the Women's College World Series. In the longest game, Texas A&M beat Cal Poly-Pomona 1-0 in 25 innings in 1984.
It was the longest game since 1994, when Oklahoma State beat Cal State-Northridge 3-2 in 15 innings.
Florida advanced to face Texas in another elimination game Sunday.
Armstrong doubled to lead off the bottom of the 15th and scored after back-to-back groundouts. Tatum Edwards then drew a walk, fouling off a full-count pitch before taking ball four. Gabby Banda's grounder glanced off of Florida pitcher Hannah Rogers and into left field, where Little fielded it and threw to third base.
Replays showed Tatum Edwards made it to the base, with Stephanie Tofft blocking it, ahead of the throw. Tatum Edwards, Taylor's twin sister, remained face down on the infield dirt for a few moments after the final out.
"I don't think she touched the bag," Tofft said. "I think she got my whole knee, that's about it."
Haeger (16-2) gave up one run on three hits in seven innings of relief, taking over at the start of the eighth inning. Rogers, who started the game, re-entered and got the save.
"If that wasn't one of the best, most exciting games at the World Series -- I don't know about ever. But it was one of the most exciting games I think I've ever coached," Gators coach Tim Walton said. "I'm really proud of our team."
After Nebraska took a 2-0 lead in the fourth, the SEC champion Gators (58-8) answered right back while taking advantage of three straight defensive miscues on infield grounders.
After Tofft's one-out RBI single, Haeger reached on a fielder's choice when Banda was unable to tag Kirsti Merritt on her way to third base.
Tatum Edwards (30-10) then fielded Kelsey Horton's dribbler and threw home too late for a force-out, allowing the tying run to score. Two more runs scored on Fuller's grounder when Armstrong spiked her throw to second into the dirt for an error.
Hailey Decker homered and had a run-scoring sacrifice fly for Nebraska. The Cornhuskers tied it in the seventh on Taylor Edwards' RBI single and a sacrifice fly by Brooke Thomason that brought two runs home. Banda was caught in a rundown, but managed to score when Tofft chased her toward home plate and the ball popped out of her glove in a diving tag attempt.
"I actually thought I was out. I was crying on the plate because I thought I was out," Banda said. "But then I saw Brooke (Thomason) and she was yelling at me and she says, `You're safe! You're safe!' I was like, `Oh my God!"'
"So, then I just kept crying because we tied it. It was a cry either way moment."