Haeger lifts Florida past LSU, 4-0
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Florida pitcher Lauren Haeger allowed LSU to load the bases with no outs in the bottom of the first inning.
The Tigers didn’t score in that inning, or any other. The national player of the year threw a complete game and helped her cause with a home run to in Florida’s 4-0 victory over LSU on Friday night in the Women’s College World Series.
LSU coach Beth Torina said Haeger’s escape in the first inning changed everything.
”I think it was a big turning point,” Torina said. ”Even though it was so early in the game, I think that if we can capitalize right there, I think it puts them in a different mindset, and it’s a completely different ballgame. It was a huge moment. She made big pitches. That’s why she is who she is.”
The defending champion Gators (57-6) are one win away from heading back to the championship series. The Gators would need to lose twice on Sunday to be eliminated.
”It’s a great feeling to get your players some rest, some shopping, other little things that we like to do,” Florida coach Tim Walton said.
Haeger’s two-run homer in the top of the fifth inning opened the scoring. It was her 70th career homer, making her the only NCAA player with at least 70 pitching wins and 70 home runs.
”I’m just doing what I need to do up there in the circle, at the plate,” she said. ”I’m not really paying attention to numbers so much right now because I’m just trying to take it game by game. That is a really cool accomplishment, and I just hope I can keep it going.”
Freshman Nicole DeWitt hit a solo homer, just her second of the season, in the top of the sixth inning to put the Gators up 3-0 and chase LSU’s Carley Hoover.
It was the second straight day that Haeger hit a home run and was the winning pitcher. She did the same against Tennessee on Thursday.
Even as things started poorly on the mound, Haeger wasn’t worried.
”I felt OK,” she said. ”I was hitting my spots fine. A couple balls got to the infield soft. That happens. People are going to get hits like that.”
LSU (51-13) will face elimination Saturday night against the winner of Saturday morning’s Alabama-Oregon game. The Tigers feel they still have a chance to make a championship run.
”I have 100 percent confidence in this team,” Hoover said. ”We have the depth to do it in every single way. I think we have the depth in hitting, pitching, defense, everything. I know my team, and I know we’re very, very capable.”