Florida moves one win from WCWS berth

The frustration was starting to show. The Gators were down a run in the seventh inning with the bases loaded for the third straight inning. That's when the least likely candidate came through. Shortstop and defensive specialist Katie Medina came to the plate with one out and lined the game winning single over shortstop, moving Florida within one win of a berth in the Women's College World Series.

In the third base coach's box, Florida head coach Tim Walton was watching his frustration continue to build. He didn't show it -- not wanting to slow the momentum his team was trying to build at the plate.

Walton's desperation for runs in the last three innings even reached the point of something he never does -- calling a squeeze bunt. He did it in the sixth inning while trying to give the Gators a lead, but the pitch was fouled off.

"How many times have you ever seen me squeeze with bases loaded?" Walton rhetorically asked with a laugh. "That tells you what's going through my head. I've been there, done that. I'm not going to sit there on my hands when I've got a decent runner and we can do some stuff."

He didn't have to be creative in the final inning. After UAB took the lead in the top of the seventh inning with a two-out RBI single, the Gators started the bottom half of the inning with back-to-back walks. After a hit by pitch loaded the bases, a pitch hit Briana Little to tie the score and keep the bases loaded.

Freshman catcher Taylor Fuller followed with a strikeout, but Katie Medina's line drive into left field for her first hit since April 26 and gave the Gators the game. She's the defensive stalwart on the team, showcasing her abilities at shortstop with a few tough plays deep in the hole on Saturday. Walton called her defense ‘special,' but it was her bat that delivered the big blow on Saturday.

"She knows her role," Walton said. "She knows Bailey Castro is going to get an at-bat for her per game in most cases. To be able to come up with that situation in the seventh inning of a tie ball game and get your team a win -- every kid in that dugout is rooting and screaming Katie's name because she works hard. To be able to come through in a situation like that is huge."

It wasn't a clean game for Florida starting pitcher Hannah Rogers. She allowed six hits, four walks and one hit batter in seven innings, giving up three runs (two earned).

"Getting through the lineup once really helped me out a lot -- being able to read the batters' swings and trusting the calls," Rogers said. "I was letting my defense work."

The Florida offense did sputter at times. UAB left-hander Lannah Campbell gave the Gators trouble for the first five innings. She was replaced after allowing a walk and single to start the sixth inning, and the Gators loaded the bases with no outs.

New pitcher Leigh Streetman got out of the jam with a ground out and back-to-back strikeouts, but it was Streetman that couldn't control the strike zone in the seventh inning and lost the game.

"Campbell's spin was really good," Walton said. "That left-handed spin and her high drop curve on our batters. They did a really good job.

"The Streetman kid that comes in is completely different coming in relief."

The win means Florida has to secure one more win on Sunday to advance to the fifth Women's College World Series in the last six years. First pitch is set for 12:04 p.m. on Sunday, and if necessary, game three is set for 3 p.m.

The crowd played an important part in energizing the Gators on Saturday, and Walton is hoping for more on Sunday.

"They come out and support us very well," Walton said. "I'm very proud of what we've built. We couldn't have done it without them. I know that for sure. Bring it back again for us tomorrow, please."

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