It’s a beautiful night at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium, but if you couldn’t make it to Oklahoma City the Daily still has you covered. Check here for our game log, updated each and every inning.
Michigan coach Carol Hutchins elected to start sophomore right-hander Megan Betsa in the circle. In a surprising fashion, Florida coach Tim Walton chose freshman right-hander Aleshia Ocasio in the pitching slot over senior right-hander and NFCA Player of the Year Lauren Haeger.
Top of the first
The Wolverines were the designated away team, getting the first shot at putting runs on the board.
Junior centerfielder Sierra Lawrence grounded out to shortstop in the first at-bat of the game. Junior second baseman then grounded out to third. With two outs, sophomore left fielder Kelly Christner worked a full count before hitting a single up the middle.
Junior right fielder Kelsey Susalla stepped to the plate in the clean-up spot for Michigan, but struck out to leave Christner stranded.
Bottom of the first
Betsa gave up a two-run homer to Haeger, who was starting in the designated player spot. The Wolverine ace recovered to strike out two and end the inning.
With the home run, Michigan had failed to score first for the third straight time in the WCWS.
Top of the second
Senior catcher Lauren Sweet swung at the first pitch she saw and grounded out to first base. Sophomore third baseman Lindsay Montemarano narrowly missed beating out a grounder to shortstop.
Haylie Wagner was the next player to step to the plate, and she singled through the gap. Michigan put runners on first and second after freshman first baseman Tera Blanco drew a walk. The Wolverines were retired when Ramirez struck out.
Bottom of the second
Third baseman Taylore Fuller led off for the Gators, but was put down on strikes. Betsa then forced two pop ups to end the inning and retire Florida one-two-three.
Top of the third
The top of the order came around once again, frequently a sign of good things to come for the Wolverines. Instead, Lawrence grounded out to third on the first pitch she saw. Romero gave the Michigan offense some life on the next at-bat, singling up the middle.
But both Christner and Susalla flew out to right field to end the threat.
Bottom of the third
Betsa forced a fly out to begin the frame, but gave up a single to DeWitt on the next at-bat. Haeger seemed to have Betsa’s number, sending a ball soaring to center field for a double and her third RBI of the game. Betsa then hit center fielder Kirsti Merritt with a pitch to put runners on first and second.
Runners advanced to second and third on a fielder’s choice, and right fielder Bailey Castro stepped into the batter’s box with two outs. Castro drew a walk before Betsa was replaced with Wagner in the circle. Wagner’s deployment to the circle marked the third time the senior would have to pitch with a deficit in the WCWS.
Wagner forced a pop up to the catcher to prevent the Gators from capitalizing with the bases loaded.
Uncharacteristically, in her last 7.1 innings pitched, Betsa has given up ten hits and nine earned runs.
Top of the fourth
The troubles continued at the plate, as Sweet flew out to left field. Montemarano drew a walk on the next at-bat, before Wagner took her second look at Ocasio. But Wagner was retired quickly, striking out on three pitches. Blanco was given the next opportunity to get the Wolverines going but failed as well.
Through four innings, Michigan has gone 3-for-14. The Gators have gone just 4-for-13, but have three runs to show for it.
Bottom of the fourth
Wagner started her first inning strong by forcing an routine grounder to short, but Ramirez couldn’t field it cleanly. The Wolverines caught a break on the next at-bat, catching a short fly off of a botched bunt. Wagner forced two grounders to end the inning, one of which was capped with a strong defensive effort from Montemarano.
The groundouts are a typical part of Wagner’s trade. As Hutchins explained, she views Betsa as a strikeout pitcher but Wagner as a ground ball specialist.
Top of the fifth
The offensive struggles continued once more for Michigan, as Ramirez was thrown out at first on an attempted squeeze bunt. Lawrence fared better and drew a walk, but was thrown out at second on a fielder’s choice during Romero’s at-bat. Florida held the Wolverines at bay once again, as Christner lined softly to first base.
Bottom of the fifth
Haeger was retired for the first time to start the frame, grounding out to Romero, and Wagner forced a second grounder to third. Wagner struck out the final batter of the frame.
She hasn’t allowed a single earned-run at the WCWS.
Top of the sixth
Susalla got things started on the right foot, connecting well with the first pitch and hitting a single to left-centerfield. On the next pitch, Sweet was hit in the back and freshman Nikki Wald went in as a pinch runner for the catcher.
Though Montemarano couldn’t bring in any runs, Susalla tagged up to third on her fly out to right field. Wagner stepped to the plate as the tying run. But after sending a home run to foul territory, Wagner popped up weakly to the second baseman.
The Wolverines finally busted the door open, as Blanco drew a walk to load the bases before she was replaced with pinch runner Olivia Richvalsky. With the bases loaded, Romero singled through the gap to score two and supply Michigan with much needed momentum. Lawrence hit a ball to the warning track on the following plate appearance, but the inning ending 3-2 in Florida’s favor.
Bottom of the sixth
Wagner started off the sixth in an ugly fashion, hitting Castro in the elbow. Outfielder Justine McLean entered as a pinch runner for Castro.
The crowd held its breath when the sound resonated from Fuller’s bat on the next pitch, but the ball didn’t have quite enough juice to exit the ballpark. Michigan recorded the second out on a sac bunt, and the third on a pop out back to Wagner.
Top of the seventh
It was Michigan’s last chance to salvage a win in the first game of the championship series, and Florida replaced Ocasio with left-hander Delanie Gourley to begin the inning.
Gourley was faced with the tough task of immediately facing Romero, but worked a full count before walking the Wolverine superstar. With Christner at the plate, Romero was able to advance to second on a wild pitch. In a six-pitch at-bat, Christner singled to right field and emphatically turned to her dugout to “spread the sauce”. The single put runners on the corners for Susalla.
The Gators narrowly missed turning a double play on a Susalla grounder, but her hustle kept runners on the corners as only Christner was thrown out at second.
Sweet quickly found herself in an 0-2 hole and struck out swinging before Montemarano grounded out to short to end the game.
Michigan will face Florida at 7 PM tomorrow in a continuation of the best two out of three series.