Florida, Baylor move to semis
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Holly Holl lined a shot over the left-field fence with two outs in the 13th inning, lifting Baylor to a 1-0 victory over Big 12 rival Missouri on Saturday night in the Women's College World Series.
Holl smashed an 0-2 pitch from Chelsea Thomas (32-8) just over the top of the wall to end the marathon that was nearly twice as long as a typical softball game.
"It was old-fashioned pitchers' duel, the way you love them -- unless you're ready to go to sleep," Baylor coach Glenn Moore said after it finally ended Sunday morning.
Whitney Canion (31-11) allowed two singles while going the distance for Baylor (47-14), which has scored its only two runs at the World Series on game-ending homers in extra innings.
"Towards the end of the game, I just kind of started laughing," Canion said. "This is so fun. Playing at this level and in the World Series, this is what it's supposed to be like.
"I love pitchers' duels. I know everyone wants to see a ton of home runs."
Thomas struck out a career-high 19 -- one shy of the World Series record -- before finally giving up Holl's second homer on her 283rd pitch of the day. Thomas already had thrown a complete game to stave off elimination for the Tigers. She threw 91 pitches in that 4-1 win against Oklahoma, then 192 in her second outing.
Baylor survives to face top-seeded Arizona State in the semifinals Sunday. Florida, which beat California 5-2, meets No. 2 seed Alabama on the other side of the bracket. Baylor and Florida each need to win twice to reach the best-of-three finals, while the other teams get two chances to win once.
Hays: Gators go small
A midseason change of approach at the plate has Florida in the Women's College World Series semifinals, writes Graham Hays. Story
With Canion and Thomas dominating, neither team got a runner past second base in the first seven innings. Baylor finally got a runner to third in the eighth, when Kathy Shelton reached on a chopper to shortstop and raced all the way to third on Megan Turk's bunt single. But Thomas sent slugger Dani Leal down swinging to end the threat.
"For Whitney to hold a team like Missouri to two hits is nothing short of amazing and why she's an All-American -- and Chelsea Thomas as well," Moore said. "We weren't even getting runners to second base."
The Tigers got their own chance in the eighth, when Nicole Hudson got to second on Leal's two-base throwing error. Canion intentionally walked cleanup hitter Ashley Fleming, then got Maddison Ruggeberg to foul out. Rhea Taylor smashed a potential go-ahead liner in the top of the 13th, but first baseman Holl snared it and stranded Lisa Simmons at second.
Then she ended it with her drive in the bottom half.
"Whatever she was going to throw me, I was probably going to swing at it," Holl said. "I wasn't going down looking again."
The Bears' only tally in the World Series until then came on a game-ending homer by Kelsi Kettler in the eighth inning of their opening win against Oklahoma State. It was also only the second homer of the season for Kettler.
Scoring hasn't been a problem for the Gators, even when they aren't adding to the nation's top home run total.
Cheyenne Coyle, Aja Paculba, Tiffany DeFelice and Michelle Moultrie all had RBI singles for the Gators (54-11), who had homered twice in each of their first two World Series games to push their NCAA-best total to 114 this season. This time they got timely base hits and capitalized on a series of fielding mistakes by Cal shortstop Britt Vonk.
"That's the difference in this game compared to the game that I started building this program on, with more power than power and speed," said Tim Walton, Florida's sixth-year coach. "We're making the transition from power to power and speed and being a little bit more of a triple threat-type team."
Florida won two of three from Alabama, the SEC champs, in Gainesville in the regular season.
"Bama is always an amazing game," Kelsey Bruder said. "It's been back and forth throughout the years. Kelsi Dunne has gotten us as many times as we've gotten her."
Vonk's errant flip to third on Coyle's third-inning infield single allowed the Gators to tie it at 2, and Paculba followed with a clean single to put Florida ahead to stay. The Gators tacked on runs in the fourth and fifth on two more infield singles hit to Vonk.
Moultrie came all the way around from second when Vonk booted DeFelice's single up the middle. Moultrie then legged out a two-out RBI single in the fifth when Vonk looked to second for a forceout, then threw to first a moment too late to beat Moultrie.
Cal (45-13) survived an elimination game earlier in the day, but got knocked out after failing to protect the 2-0 first-inning lead it built against freshman Hannah Rogers. Jace Williams had an RBI double to right, then scored on Lindsey Ziegenhirt's single to center.
Rogers (35-7) avoided falling too far behind by striking out Victoria Jones and getting Jordan Wallace to ground out with the bases loaded to end the first. That kept the game within striking distance for the Gators, who rank second in the nation with 7.4 runs per game and have scored at least five in all three of their World Series games.
"We know Florida has a very explosive offense and we were going to need a lot of runs," Williams said. "A fantastic team, Florida. Not much of a weakness anywhere."
Its big rally started after Jolene Henderson (40-10) had retired the first two batters in the third. Bruder and Brittany Schutte had back-to-back singles before Henderson walked Megan Bush to load the bases.
Coyle, who had already hit into an inning-ending forceout with the bases loaded in the first, hit another grounder in the same direction but this time it resulted in two runs. Vonk's flip to third was wide of the base, allowing Bruder and Schutte to score.
"It was really the same pitch and almost the same exact result," Walton said. "She got a little bit of the top of the ball in both cases, and both cases were a tough play for shortstop. ... Obviously it was a huge momentum shift."
The first two teams eliminated were Oklahoma State (42-20) and Oklahoma (43-19)
Ashley Decker drove in three runs on her first triple of the season and Elia Reid hit a solo home run as Cal beat Oklahoma State 6-2.
Missouri got its first win of the day without the benefit of an RBI, getting all of its runs in a 4-1 win with the help of four Oklahoma errors.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press
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