OKLAHOMA CITY – Lauren Haeger’s arm and bat powered top-seeded Florida to a 4-0 winover No. 5 LSU in the first winner’s bracket game on day two of the 2015 Women’s College World Series, Thursday evening at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium.
For the second straight day, Haeger gave her team the lead with a home run and then held her opponents at bay in the circle. The NFCA First-Team All-American’s fifth-inning two-run long ball gave the Gators (57-6) a 2-0 lead and then she held the Tigers (51-13) to just one hit over the final three innings to earn her 12th shutout of the season.
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Haeger allowed five hits, struck out four and did not walk a batter to earn her 30th win of the season and 71st of her career. The home run was her 18th in 2015 and 70th career-wise.
She wasn’t the only one who played a role in the win. UF recorded 10 hits, three from junior Kirsti Merritt (3-for-3) and two apiece from freshman Nicole DeWitt (2-for-4) and senior Aubree Munro (2-for-3). Dewitt homered and scored twice. Defensively, two key first inning plays by Taylor Fuller at third and Kathlyn Medina at shortstop erased a no-out bases loaded threat.
Before Haeger’s long ball broke the scoreless deadlock, both teams loaded the bases in the first and could not score. Florida’s Kelsey Stewart led the game off with a triple and after a strikeout the Gators had the bases full, but a pop up and a strikeout of Bailey Castro by Carly Hoover ended the threat.
In the bottom half of the frame, the Tigers first three batters singled off Haeger to load them up. However, the NFCA First-Team All-American bore down and induced two ground balls to end it, the second of which was a 6-3 tag and throw double play to end the frame.
DeWitt’s first WCWS home run and second of the season made it a 3-0 ball game in the sixth. A throwing error on a double steal closed out the scoring for the Gators.
Hoover suffered the defeat for the Tigers. She went 5.2 innings, allowing three runs on eight hits with four strikeouts and four walks. Kelsee Selman closed out the game, surrendering an unearned run on two hits with a walk and strikeout.
With the win, Florida earns a day off and a trip to the semifinals on Sunday, May 31 at 1:00 p.m. ET, while LSU moves to the loser bracket and will play at 9:30 p.m.
-- Photo courtesy of Gatorzone.com