Florida shuts down Arizona at WCWS
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Francesca Enea and Megan Bush homered and Stacey Nelson threw a two-hitter against the nation's top scoring offense as top-seeded Florida beat Arizona 3-0 Thursday night at the Women's College World Series.
Nelson (40-3) gave up singles to the Wildcats' first two batters, but then didn't give up another hit for her 21st shutout of the season. The Gators (61-3) haven't given up a run in 38 of their 61 wins this season.
"I never, the whole game, really felt out of trouble," Nelson said.
Arizona coach Mike Candrea gambled by starting Lindsey Sisk instead of ace Sarah Akamine. Sisk (13-5) had struck out a career-high 14 in relief as Arizona rallied to beat Stanford and advance to the World Series, but gave up both home runs before being relieved by Akamine in the second inning.
Akamine then threw five innings of scoreless relief for the eight-time champion Wildcats (46-16).
"One of our toughest situations we've been in this year has really been unpredictable as far as our pitchers. We kind of rolled the dice and thought Sisk would be a good matchup," said Candrea, whose pitching staff has the highest ERA in program history this season. "A couple bad pitches and we're down 3-0."
Arizona came into the World Series as the nation's top team in hitting (.344) and scoring (8.2 runs per game) and with an NCAA record 134 home runs.
Arizona State runs over Missouri
Arizona State's grounders kept bounding and bouncing until the Sun Devils had taken the first step toward defending their Women's College World Series title.
Jessica Mapes and Taylor Haro each had four base hits as Arizona State used an onslaught of singles to beat Missouri 7-3 Thursday on the opening day of college softball's premier event.
The Sun Devils (47-17) had 13 singles for the most hits in a seven-inning World Series game since 1998, and scored six quick runs to chase Tigers starter Chelsea Thomas after only two innings.
"I'm getting used to singles right now. For some unknown reason, we just haven't had many long balls lately," Arizona State coach Clint Myers said. "But the mentality is what we're trying to do at the plate. We're trying to stay on top of it."
Upon their return to the field where they scored seven runs in the final inning of an 11-0 defeat of Texas A&M to clinch the title last year, the Sun Devils put their first five hitters on base. They never let up with a string of singles the Tigers (50-11) couldn't handle.
"It does definitely put some extra pressure on them if you can get down to first base quickly," said Mapes, who went 4-for-5 and scored twice. "Even if it's not a base hit, you might be able to make them rush a throw."
Mizzou coach Ehren Earleywine complained that the field hardened since the Tigers won the Big 12 tournament on it, and that proved advantageous for the Sun Devils.
"We have a dropball pitcher throwing, and the infield played like a trampoline," Earleywine said. "In the first two innings where they got those six runs, they hit two balls off the barrel. I don't know how many six-hoppers got through the infield, but it's just not conducive to a dropball pitcher when you've got an infield that hard.
"That really put us in a hole really too big to climb out of."
Marla Schweisberger hit a solo home run off Hillary Bach (31-9), and Rhea Taylor had an RBI double for the only two extra-base hits.
The 10th-seeded Sun Devils advanced to a Friday night game against Pac-10 rival Washington, which beat Georgia 3-1 earlier in the day. Missouri, the only unseeded team in the field, will face Georgia on Saturday in an elimination game.
Earleywine said he didn't intend to complain about the playing conditions.
"You just play, whether its an asphalt playground or a mud pit," Earleywine said. "I've played on fields with glass on them before. You just play. But the facts are the facts. It's not a conducive infield for a dropball pitcher."
The Sun Devils certainly didn't have any problems with the infield, producing the most hits since Fresno State had 13 in a 6-1 win against Nebraska in 1998. Iowa holds the record with 17 in a 14-inning victory against Michigan in 1995.
"Our field's pretty bouncy at home, so that's good for us," Bach said.
Williams' bat, Lawrie's arm lift Huskies
Freshman Niki Williams hit her first home run in three months, and national player of the year Danielle Lawrie threw a six-hitter to lead third-seeded Washington to a 3-1 win over Georgia.
Williams broke a scoreless tie off a screwball that Christie Hamilton (24-9) left too high. It was only the third homer of the season for Williams, the No. 9 hitter in the Huskies' lineup. She hadn't hit one since Feb. 27, finishing the entire Pac-10 season without a homer.
"Any hit's great, and a home run's even better," said Williams, who was 3 for 16 in postseason play entering the World Series.
"It just gives her that much more confidence going into Friday, and that she can hit the ball. She has power and she definitely showed that today," Lawrie said. "She swings it."
Lawrie (38-7) made it stand up, striking out five to add to her NCAA-leading strikeout total of 477. Kimi Pohlman added an RBI single in the sixth inning for the Huskies (47-11).
Taylor Schlopy had an RBI double for sixth-seeded Georgia (44-11) in its World Series debut.
Michigan wins first game of CWS since 2005
Amanda Chidester homered and Teddi Ewing had three hits and two RBIs as Michigan won 6-1 over Alabama in its first game at the World Series since claiming the title in 2005.
The Wolverines (47-10) took an early lead by capitalizing on some wild pitching by Kelsi Dunne, who last week became the first pitcher to throw back-to-back no-hitters in the NCAA tournament.
Dunne (28-4) hit one batter with a pitch and walked two others to force in a run in the second inning. Chidester then hit her eighth home run in the third, and Ewing's first of two RBI singles pushed the lead to 3-0 in the fourth.
"I have great respect for their lineup. They have great hitters one through nine," Dunne said after allowing the last two hitters in Michigan's lineup to go 5-for-6. "Ultimately, you can't give them free passes, and I was doing that a little too much tonight."
Fifth-seeded Michigan then added three more runs in the sixth as the Crimson Tide (52-10) misplayed bunts on consecutive plays.
Nikki Nemitz (28-5) threw a three-hitter and lost her bid for a shutout on Whitney Larsen's RBI double with Alabama down to its last out.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.