Gators become third repeat Women's College World Series champs

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Thursday, June 4, 2015

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Florida got everything right -- except its championship celebration. As the Gators reveled in their second straight national softball title following their 4-1 win over Michigan on Wednesday night, Lauren Haeger and coach Tim Walton participated in postgame interviews.

Two players tried to douse them with Gatorade, but the bucket was too heavy. They ended up just getting Walton's ankles.

The resilient Gators even recovered from that. Well after the game ended, Florida huddled in the circle, swayed back and forth in unison and sang "We Are The Champions."

Haeger capped one of the most dominant careers in women's college softball by giving up just five hits and striking out five. She became the third player to be both national player of the year and the most outstanding player at the Women's College World Series.

She hit .571 in the World Series with three home runs, seven RBIs and six walks in six games. As a pitcher, she went 4-1 and allowed just six earned runs in 36 innings.

"When you work hard, good things happen to you," she said. "I'm so thankful to be a Gator. It's been a great time."

Florida became just the third program to repeat as champion, and the first since Arizona in 2006-07. The Gators came back after losing 1-0 on Tuesday.

"We used it as motivation," Haeger said. "We realized this isn't going to be handed to us and we really needed to work hard. Michigan is a great team. And we just had a different attitude today. You could see it in our eyes. You could see it in each other, you could hear it in our conversations. We were a different team. We were who we are today, and I couldn't be more proud of my teammates."

After the final out, the players threw their gloves up in the air, and Haeger jumped up and down excitedly in the pitcher's circle before she was rushed and the team formed a pile.

Justine McLean had two hits, and Taylor Schwarz knocked in two runs for Florida (60-7).

Michigan (60-8) was going for its first title since 2005. Haylie Wagner, who shut out Florida on Tuesday to keep the Wolverines alive, got the loss. Megan Betsa allowed just one hit and didn't yield a run in four innings of relief.

Haeger singled in Kelsey Stewart in the bottom of the first to give Florida a 1-0 lead. It was the first earned run against Wagner in 20 innings at the World Series. Schwarz's single with two outs knocked in Nicole DeWitt and Haeger to make it 3-0.

Stewart doubled in the second inning to score McLean as Florida took a 4-0 lead and chased Wagner.

"They definitely came out attacking, and they just got a hold of the ball, and I could have spun the ball a little bit more," Wagner said. "But I had to go after them. And they were fighting right back, and they were throwing the same punches as we were."

Betsa came in and struck out two batters with the bases loaded to end the second inning.

Haeger hit the first two batters in the third inning. Michigan loaded the bases with two outs before Haeger struck out Kelly Christner.

Michigan's Tera Blanco broke up Haeger's no-hitter in the top of the fifth, and the Wolverines got on the board when Sierra Romero's single scored Blanco.

Wagner returned to pitch in the sixth inning with her team down 4-1 and escaped a bases-loaded jam, but Michigan couldn't get it going against Haeger.

"As I told my team, I told them yesterday and I told them today, tonight doesn't define our season," Michigan coach Carol Hutchins said. "Obviously, we would have liked to have walked out of here with the other trophy, but this has been a great team, fun to coach. They've been very committed to team, very committed to Michigan and to each other, and I'm proud of them."

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