Gators head to National Championship again

It wasn’t the normal dominant outing from senior pitcher Lauren Haeger. Haeger allowed runners in every inning and 11 hits from the Auburn Tigers (56-11), but the Gators National Player of the Year still threw a complete game only allowing 2 runs to see her Florida (58-6) team advance to the championship series of the Women’s College World Series (WCWS).

The Gator bats didn’t help Haeger much on the day. Auburn junior right hander Lexi Davis kept the Gator batters guessing and allowed just four hits in her 7 and 1/3 innings pitched on the day.

But, it was freshman Nicole Dewitt who had a home run earlier in the WCWS, that hit a short single to left field and scored sophomore Justine McLean from second in the bottom of the ninth inning for the 3-2 win and send the Gators to the championship series where they will match up Monday night at 8 p.m. against Michigan or LSU on ESPN2.

Florida is the only team in the country to advance four times to the WCWS Championship series four times. IN the seven years of the Championship series, no other team has been there more than twice.

Batting ninth in the order, McClean scored twice on the day notching her first run in the third inning. She scored on a passed ball in the third.

While Haeger wasn’t in top form, she still showed why she is the National Player of the Year. Almost every time she had runners on base, she reared back and shut the Tigers down when it counted. The lone exception was the fourth inning when Auburn took a brief 2-1 lead on four hits. But, by the end of the game, Haeger left 14 batters stranded on the bases, struck out six and only walked one. She also pitched a complete nine inning game (two extra).

The lead was brief for the Tigers because in the bottom of the fourth junior Taylore Fuller led off the Gators with her 14th home run of the season and her first-career at the WCWS to knot the game at 2-2.

Haeger is now 31-1 on the season and has notched 72 wins along with hitting 7 home runs in her collegiate career. No other softball player in history has hit more than 60 and won more than 60 in a career.

Head Coach Tim Walton notched his 550th career win, is 62-20 in NCAA Tournament play, and now 20-11 at the WCWS as the Gators’ head coach.

ESPN displayed a stat that Florida (14 wins) is one win away from tying the longest winning streak in NCAA tournament history.

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