OKLAHOMA CITY -- For a freshman, Nicole Dewitt already had a pretty impressive Women's College Word Series going. Even before Sunday's semifinal game against Auburn took place, she had come up with some clutch hits, including a solo homer run against LSU on Friday.
“It was so cool,” Dewitt said of her homer. “It was crazy. I haven't really hit many home runs this year. Hitting that on the big stage, oh my gosh, it was just great.”
“Of course everyone wants to imagine themselves being in that situation,” Dewitt said. “But I didn't know it was actually going to be a reality until now. I was like 'Oh my goodness, I just hit that walk off.' It was just a great feeling.”
Florida will now play for its second consecutive national championship starting Monday against Michigan.
“Any one of those four teams, really felt like the way they were playing coming down the stretch could win a national championship, and so I don't think we match up particularly well with either one of them,” Florida coach Tim Walton said. “I just hope that they don't match up as well with us either. So I think that's our key.
In the bottom of seventh with the scored tied at 2-2 and two outs on the board, Dewitt was set to bat. But as she began to make her way to home plate, Walton called her back to the dugout and summoned in Brianna Little, a senior who was 0 for her past 21 at bats.
“I was frustrated but I knew I had to get back in the dugout and cheer on Bri [Briana Little],” DeWitt said. “I had to help out my teammate and root for her in any way possible and hope for her to get the hit. Little flew out to left field and the game continued.
The Gators found themselves in the same situation in the ninth. But instead of going with Little, Walton stayed with the freshman and he was rewarded with the decision.
Dewitt hit a bloop single over shortstop Haley Fagan and it rolled to Tiffany Howard. With Justine McLean on a sprint from second base, Howard threw home. But it wasn't in time as McLean easily scored.
“I was trying to calm myself down,” Dewitt said. “Calm down my nerves. I wasn't trying to get all caught up in how big the situation was. I was just trying to relax and get the job done. I was just trying keep it simple. I had a rough couple previous at-bats. I went to my slap and then I just tried to place the ball and fill a hole, and found the hole and Justine came around and scored.”
While it may seem surprising that a freshman can come through for her team in that manner, according to DeWitt's teammates, they expect nothing less.
“Nicole has been in that position before it's not her first rodeo here,” Taylore Fuller said. “She knows what to do in that position and she is usually successful.”
Yet, this is DeWitt's first roie. The first time has every been on a stage this big with so much weighing on every at bat. But is handling the moments like a veteran.
“This kid right here has hit some big walk-offs for us,” Walton said of DeWitt. “She's done things already. She's a good one and we're happy she's only a freshman because she's only going to get better.”