Former Lake Wales Highlander standout Hannah Rogers is on the verge of bringing the University of Florida another national championship, this one in softball.
The Gator senior allowed three runs on five hits and threw 96 pitches Sunday, improving to 29-8 this season, with a 6-3 win over Baylor Sunday that propelled her team to the best-of-three championship series against Alabama.
“I just want to continue to do everything and not over think anything, and use my defense like I have all season,” she said. “I mean, they’ve been doing a great job here and all year and I will continue to use them.”
The Gators and Crimson Tide opened the best of three title series Monday night, with Florida winning 5-0.
Rogers took a one-hitter into the bottom of the seventh in the matchup of Southeastern Conference rivals. She had a perfect game through four innings.
“I wasn’t really aware of it,” she said of the perfect start. “I just kept using my defense, and I try not to look up at the scoreboard too much unless I’m looking at the count.”
Rogers has held opponents scoreless in 46 of her past 47 innings.
“I think Hannah was terrific tonight,” Alabama coach Patrick Murphy said. “I think it’s one of the best games she’s played against us. It was just a continuation of her postseason.”
Game two was played too late for News deadlines. A third game if needed would be Wednesday night.
Interestingly, Rogers’ mound foe Monday was Jackie Traina, from Naples. The two dueled for 11 innings in the 2007 Class A state finals, with Lake Wales pulling out a 1-0 win. In that game, Traina fanned 13 while allowing eight hits. Rogers, fanned just four and allowed seven hits.
The two continued to battle during their high school years as they regularly met each other in the 4A playoffs.
Rogers threw her fifth shutout of the postseason, as Florida beat top-seeded Oregon 4-0 last Friday night in the Women’s College World Series.
“I feel very confident just locating pitches and the way I feel right now. My body feels great and the defense we have behind us and how good the hitters are hitting right now,” she said after the win over the Beavers.
Rogers is a seasoned vet at the Women’s College World Series and pitched like one as the Gators opened play last Thursday.
Rogers, appearing in her third WCWS, threw a three-hitter and fifth-seeded Florida rolled to an 11-0, five-inning victory over No. 13 seed Baylor in their first meeting against the Bears.
Against Rogers, Baylor managed only a third-inning leadoff single and a pair of infield singles in the fourth.
“Just the way that I’ve been pitching lately has given me that confidence to just go out there and shut it down,” Rogers said. “Also, how good our offense is doing right now, that just allows you to go out and have fun and do what you do.”
Rogers (27-8) threw her fourth shutout of the postseason for the Gators, who have won six of their seven NCAA tournament games this season by shutout. The run-rule win over Baylor was the fifth of the tournament for Florida.
A Senior CLASS Award finalist, Rogers paced the Gators in wins (26), ERA (1.68), strikeouts (154) and innings pitched (195.1). The right-hander is tied with Baylor’s Whitney Canion as the NCAA’s active career wins leader (123), and became the second pitcher in Florida history to record 100 career wins when she earned the victory in UF’s 11-1 (5 innings) win over Hawaii on Feb. 14 at the Easton Desert Classic in Las Vegas.
Rogers ranks among Florida’s all-time leaders in wins (second), games started (second — 142), strikeouts (second — 820), saves (second — 13), appearances (second — 186), innings pitched (second — 960.0), shutouts (T-2nd — 38), winning percentage (fourth — .799), opponent’s batting average (fifth — 1.99) and ERA (sixth — 1.68).
Along with her Second Team All-America honor, Rogers earned NFCA All-Southeast Region Second Team, All-SEC Second Team and SEC All-Defensive Team recognition. She is the first ever Gator player to earn All America honors in each of her four seasons in Gainesville.
A 2010 graduate of Lake Wales High School, she led the Lake Wales Highlanders to the 2007 Class 4A state title, 2008 4A Regional title and made a state championship finals appearance in 2009.
Rogers was a four-time all-state and all-county first-team selection and finished her senior year 18-5 with a 0.38 ERA and 211 strikeouts in 140 innings. She was a finalist for Florida’s Gatorade Pitcher of the Year in 2009, while being named the 2009 Class 4A Pitcher of the Year by Miracle Sports.
Florida has never won an NCAA softball title.