History was made on June 3, 2014, as the Florida Gators defeated the Alabama Crimson Tide, 6-3, winning the school’s first Women’s College Softball World Series (WCWS) Title. For Game 2, Florida manager, Tim Walton surprised everyone by not starting his ace, and Game 1 starter, Hannah Rogers, who lead the way for the Gators all year with 30 wins and an era of just 1.68. Instead, he kept his promise to junior Lauren Haeger and gave her the Game 2 start in the best of three series.
Alabama chose a different approach to Game 2. Needing a win to stay alive, Crimson Tide ace, senior, Jackie Traina, went back to the circle after pitching 6 1/3 in a Game 1 loss. But Florida scored five runs before Traina was taken out after 1 1/3 innings.
Going into the final inning, Florida had a 6-2 lead, and Rogers came in to relieve for the chance to win the program’s first Women’s College Softball World Series Title. Rogers is no stranger to pressure situations. Throughout her career at Florida, she has pitched in numerous high pressure situations including previous College World Series and another popular World Series.
In 2005, Rogers was the starting pitcher for Lake Wales (Fla.) Little League which defeated La Grange (Texas) Little League, 4-0, in the Junior League Softball World Series Championship Game.
“Little League was always something to look forward to,” said Rogers. “Playing in the World Series, we got to meet other teams including teams from overseas.”
Rogers was not the only player competing in the 2014 WCWS with experience contending for a World Series title during their Little League Softball® days.
Hannah Rogers celebrating with pitching coach Jennifer Rocha.
WCWS Championship Game foe, Traina, and her Alabama teammate, Ryan Iamurri, have been rivals facing off against Rogers for years on Little League Softball fields in Florida. Graduates of Naples Little League, Traina and Iamurri, have been teammates since the age of six, and are no strangers to Little League championship games. In 2003, Traina and Iamurri were runners-up at the Little League Softball® World Series. In 2006, Traina and Iamurri’s Naples Little League team captured the Junior League Softball World Series title, defeating Asia-Pacific, 8-0, the year after Rogers’ Lake Wales Little League team brought home the banner. And in 2012, the life-long teammates won the Women’s College World Series for Alabama.
While Rogers, Traina and Iamurri were the most high-profile Little League grads competing in the 2014 WCWS, the series is filled with others including: Louisiana-Lafayette teammates Megan Thomas and Marie Hoag, who represented the Southwest in 2005 playing for Evangeline Little League from New Iberia, La., and Baylor freshman Sarah Beth Toben, who represented the Southwest in 2008, playing for Midway Little League from Waco, Texas.
“My advice for all those playing Little League Softball today is to keep working hard, practice, make memories and just do what you love to do,” said Rogers.