Williams, Rothrock lead Florida to super regional victory, berth in WCWS

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Mia Williams hit a two-run home run, Keagan Rothrock worked out of a seventh-inning jam to polish off a complete game for her 30th win and fourth-seeded Florida beat unseeded Baylor 5-3 on Sunday in the finale of the best-of-three Gainesville Super Regional, earning the Gators a spot in the Women’s College World Series.

Florida (51-13) won its fifth straight Game 3 in the super regionals, also doing so from 2017-19 and most recently in 2022. The Gators had never made a super regional until Tim Walton took over in 2006. Since then, the Gators have played in 15 of them and made 11 WCWS appearances, winning back-to-back championships in 2014-15.

Florida took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning on a sacrifice fly by Jocelyn Erickson and an RBI single by Reagan Walsh.

Williams, who entered play with a .167 batting average, pushed the Bears’ lead to 4-0 in the second with her sixth home run this season. That spelled the end for Bears starter RyLee Crandall (17-9), who retired just four batters. Aliyah Binford moved from third base to the mound to end the threat and finish the game.

Baylor (36-23) answered with a run-scoring single by Sydney Collazos in the top of the fourth and leadoff hitter Emily Hott’s 11th home run of the season — a two-run shot in the fifth to pull within 4-3.

The Gators loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the inning, but Binford allowed only Ariel Kowalewski’s sac fly to keep Baylor within two runs.

No. 9 batter Taylor Strain led off the seventh with an infield hit and Hott drew a walk on a 3-2 pitch from Rothrock. Presleigh Pilon popped up a bunt for the first out. Shaylon Govan lined out to left field for the second and Binford, the clean-up hitter, popped out to first to end the game.

Rothrock (30-7) allowed three runs — two earned — on eight hits and two walks, striking out three.

Binford went the final 4 2/3 innings for the Bears, allowing one run on two hits and six walks with three strikeouts.

Baylor ended Florida’s 12-game win streak on Saturday with a 5-2 victory to force a third game. The Gators won the opener 4-2. Baylor finished with more hits in all three games.

The Bears were playing in their seventh super regional — all since 2005 — and first since 2017 when the Bears advanced to their fourth WCWS. Baylor entered the game with a 6-6 record all time versus Florida, including a 3-2 mark in Gainesville.

Baylor manager Glenn Moore took over the reins in 2001 after leading LSU for two seasons.


AP college sports: https://apnews.com/hub/college-sports

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