OKLAHOMA CITY - The Gators are national champions, once again.
The University of Florida softball team (60-7) is just the third program in NCAA Softball history to win back-to-back national titles, as the Gators downed Michigan (60-8) in Game 1 and Game 3 of the Women's College World Series Championship Series by scores of 3-2 and 4-1, respectively. The WCWS was played at the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City.
In the 34-year history of the WCWS, 12 different teams have claimed the national title. Florida joins UCLA (2003, 2004 / 1988, 1989, 1990 / 1984, 1985) and Arizona (2006, 2007 / 1996, 1997 / 1993, 1994) as the only three programs to claim NCAA titles in consecutive years.
With tonight's win, Florida improved to 4-1 this season against the Wolverines. Coming into the WCWS Championships Series, Michigan had won 28-straight games, but then they ran into the wrecking machine that is Florida softball.
In addition, the 60 wins that the Gators posted this season is the third-highest mark in school history. The Gators posted win totals of 70 and 63 in 2008 and 2009, respectively.
The back-to-back NCAA titles makes Florida the first school to in the Southeastern Conference with two championships, as Alabama won the conferences first crown in 2012.
Since the WCWS Championships Series moved to a best-of-three format, the team who has won Game 2 of the series has become the National Champions.
Until this year.
Game 3 Recap:
Behind a solid performance from senior Lauren Haeger in the circle, and clutch hits from the Gators offense, the University of Florida softball team won Game 3 of the Women's College World Series Championship Series over Michigan, 4-1, on Wednesday in front of a sell-out crowd at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium.
Still frustrated from being shutout for the first time all season yesterday, the Gators wasted no time getting on the board tonight.
In the top of the first inning, junior Kelsey Stewart and freshman Nicole DeWitt led off and each reached base by way of a hit-by-pitch and fielder's choice. Then, the 2015 National Player of the Year delivered an RBI single into center field to give UF a 1-0 lead.
That RBI was her 71st of the season, which marked a new-career high for a single season.
Two batters later, DeWitt and Haeger were each in scoring position when junior Taylor Schwarz, who had just 12 RBI all season and was 1-for-11 in the NCAA Tournament, delivered a MEGA-clutch two-out, two-run single to give UF a solid 3-0 advantage.
One inning later, sophomore Justine McLean led off with an infield single. She then advanced to second on an error and third on a sacrifice bunt. After the sac, Stewart knocked her in with her first RBI of the WCWS, as she smacked a doubled into left-center field.
Michigan scored its lone run of the game in the top of the fifth inning on three singles.
Following a pair of one-out singles by Tera Blanco and Abby Ramirez, Sierra Romero delivered a two-out RBI single to center field to plate Blanco.
In the circle, Haeger (32-2) tossed six scoreless innings, while giving up five hits and striking out five Wolverines. Her counterpart, UM's Haylie Wagner, who dominated UF in Game 2 of the WCWS Championship Series, started and surrendered four runs on four hits in just 2.0 innings pitched.