OKLAHOMA CITY — Tennessee scored three runs in the first inning and chased Florida ace Hannah Rogers early, defeating the Gators 9-2 in opening-round action Thursday at the NCAA Women's College World Series.
In facing just five batters, Rogers walked two straight, gave up a single, forced home a run with a third walk and threw two balls to Melissa Brown before being pulled after one-third of an inning and 13 pitches.
Brown then greeted Lauren Haeger with a two-run double off the centerfield wall, giving the Volunteers a 3-0 lead.
"Things just weren't going my way," Rogers said.
UF (57-8) finished with four hits in its first lopsided loss of the softball season. The previous seven were by two or less.
"We didn't play very well, with uncharacteristic mistakes," Gators coach Tim Walton said. "I really give our kids credit for the fight. We just didn't have enough. I give Tennessee more credit than I take away from us. They just looked like the better ball club."
After watching Florida edge out his team for the SEC championship on the last day of the season, Tennessee coach Ralph Weekly cautioned the Vols.
"I called them together and told them they weren't going to back into a championship," Weekly said.
Florida's best chance came in the fifth when the Gators scored their only runs, the first on an RBI triple from freshman Kelsey Stewart. With the bases loaded, two outs and a chance to tie or take the lead, freshman Taylor Schwarz bounced into a force at third base.
Tennessee (50-10) answered with a four-run sixth, aided by two infield errors.
The Gators, the second overall seed in the NCAA field, face 14th-seeded Nebraska (45-15) in an elimination game at noon Saturday.
The Cornhuskers fell into the losers' bracket when Washington's Kimberlee Souza hit a walkoff homer in the eighth for a 4-3 victory. The Huskies play the Vols today.