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Photo by Andy Meng, Stageshot Photography

Saturday February 11, 2012Gator Softball Finishes Season-Opener With 8-0, Five-Inning Victory Over LIU Saturday Morning

Gainesville, Fla.

Photo by Andy Meng, Stageshot Photography

After a rain delay halted No. 2/4 UF softball’s season-opener versus Long Island Friday, Florida wasted no time adding its eighth run of the tilt in the continuation Saturday morning to enforce the run rule after the fifth inning, securing the Gators’ 23rd all-time season-opening victory with an 8-0 victory over the Blackbirds (0-2).


Sophomore All-American hurler Hannah Rogers (Lake Wales, Fla.) and freshman righty Alyssa Bache (Clearwater, Fla.) teamed up for a two-hit shutout, as Rogers worked the first 4.0 until the weather delay Friday, while Bache finished off the final inning for the Orange and Blue Saturday morning.  Rogers fanned five and allowed just two hits and one walk for her first win of the year, while Bache recorded her first K of the season in her first appearance donning the Orange and Blue.


Saturday’s continuation of the Gators versus Blackbirds match-up started with freshman Jessica Damico (Gray Summit, Mo.) on third, senior Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) at the plate with a 2-0 count and the Gators leading the Blackbirds, 7-0. Long Island traded Friday’s starting pitcher Sarah Reynolds for Nicole Archer in the circle Saturday.


Archer walked three straight, first Moultrie – followed by a Moultrie stolen base – then freshmen  Sami Fagan (Dunnellon, Fla.) and Lauren Haeger (Peoria, Ariz.), to bring Damico across home for the 8-0 lead before a final strikeout retired the side, ending  the UF rally.


Bache finished off the Blackbirds to seal the deal for UF in the bottom of the fifth frame as the Gators improved to 23-5 overall in season-openers and 9-3 under Florida head coach Tim Walton.


Four Florida freshmen in Fagan, Haeger, Katie Medina (Downey, Calif.) and Damico made their first career starts in a Gator uniform against LIU, combining for five of UF’s nine hits, led by Fagan’s 2-for-3 effort and Damico’s 2-for-2 performance. Damico drove in one run, while Haeger had a team-leading two RBI in the contest.


The Gators scattered runs in the first, third and fifth innings, with one each in the first and third before pouring it on in the fifth. After three uncharacteristic errors for the young Florida squad through the first two frames, the Gators found their rhythm, relying on a two-out rally in the fifth for the season-opening spark that allowed UF to distance itself from LIU Friday.


Junior catcher Brittany Schutte (Fountain Valley, Calif.) started the rally with patience at the plate, drawing a two-out walk, while sophomore Cheyenne Coyle (West Hills, Calif.), junior Kelsey Horton (Valrico, Fla.) followed with base hits to load the bags. Sophomore Kasey Fagan (Dunnellon, Fla.) walked, bringing in a run for the 3-0 lead. Next up, junior Ensley Gammel (Bakersfield, Calif.), pinch hitting for Medina, roped a RBI single through the left side, while Horton made it two runs by capitalizing on an error by the LIU catcher to take the Orange and Blue up, 5-0.


The pressure mounted for LIU as the rain began to fall, resulting in another Florida run on a Reynolds wild pitch. Damico followed with a single to left center, turning over the Florida lineup with her second hit of the game and scoring Gammel. Damico proceeded to steal second and advance to third on another Reynolds wild pitch with Moultrie at the plate before the umpires deemed the conditions unplayable, resulting in Sunday’s finale.


Archer and Sterling Hoham accounted for LIU’s two hits in the game, while Reynolds was charged with her first loss of the season.


The Gators will return to the USF Softball Stadium for match-ups with Maine and Illinois State Saturday evening at 6 and 8:15, respectively. Follow all of Florida’s games this season on Twitter @GatorZoneSBall or tune in locally on the radio at 104.9 FM, with the call by Mike Gillespie and former Gator All-American Megan Bush.








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