Florida dominates again, moves top-seed Oregon into losers' bracket
OKLAHOMA CITY — Hannah Rogers threw her fifth shutout of the postseason, Bailey Castro went 3 for 4 with a homer and two RBIs and Florida beat top-seeded Oregon 4-0 on Friday night in the Women's College World Series.Florida (52-12) moved within a win of reaching the best-of-three championship series and will be off until Sunday. Florida is seeking its third finals berth, having lost to Washington in 2009 and Arizona State in 2011. Oregon (55-8-1) will face an elimination game Saturday against Oklahoma or Louisiana-Lafayette.
The Gators have won seven of their eight NCAA tournament games by shutout, dominating the opposition. Florida's opening-round 11-0 rout of Baylor on Thursday was only the fourth five-inning run-rule win in the WCWS in the past 16 years.
Rogers (28-8) tossed her second consecutive three-hitter, having also blanked Baylor.
"They set a lofty goal and each one of our players needs to do their part," Florida coach Tim Walton said. "You don't just get to the postseason and get by. You have to figure out a way to get better. I give them a ton of credit for buying in and then being accountable. All 17 of the girls are doing their part to help the Gators win softball games."
Unlike in the regular-season meeting between the teams — Florida's 2-1 win in eight innings on Feb. 28 — the Gators jumped on Oregon early, knocking out All-America starter Cheridan Hawkins (34-5) in the fourth inning.
Castro lined a shot over the temporary bleachers outside the center field fence to lead off the second inning. Her single with two outs in the third scored Kelsey Stewart, who had opened the inning with a single, and made it 2-0.
"We've just been talking all year about line drives and I think that was just my go-to play, to just go up there with line drives," Castro said.
With two outs and two runners on base, Briana Little hit a popup to short left field. Oregon second baseman Karina Shaver fell down while trying to maneuver to catch the ball, allowing it to hit the ground. The play was ruled a double and both runners scored to put the Gators up 4-0.
Meanwhile, the Ducks -- who had outscored their opponents 43-6 in six postseason games -- never advanced a runner past first base. The Ducks hit into double plays after two of their basehits, singles by Koral Costa in the second and Courtney Ceo in the sixth. In the third, Nikki Urida singled with two outs but Rogers then struck out Ceo.
"[Rogers] controlled us," Oregon coach Mike White said. "We got three hits. Everything we seemed to hit, they made plays on. They played well defensively. The big thing for us is to bounce back and see what we can do [Saturday] night. It just didn't go our way [Friday] but I'm confident we'll bounce back [Saturday]."