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Photo by Andy Meng, Stageshot Photography

Sunday February 12, 2012No. 2/4 Gator Softball Undefeated After Season-Opening USF-Fairfield Inn Tampa North Tournament

Tampa, Fla.

Photo by Andy Meng, Stageshot Photography

Florida’s 2012 softball squad walked away from the first five games of the campaign unscathed, chalking up two more victories in Tampa Sunday with a 3-2, eight-inning win over tournament-host USF, followed by a 5-0 victory over FGCU to wrap up the USF-Fairfield Inn & Suites Tampa North Tournament.

 

Sophomore righty Hannah Rogers (Lake Wales, Fla.) improved to 4-0 on the season, earning both Ws in the circle for the Orange and Blue Sunday with 11 strikeouts – two in the final 2.2 against USF – while rallying for nine Ks through a complete-game, three-hit shutout against FGCU.

 

In a contest which hits and runs were hard to come by against the USF Bulls in Florida’s first game of the afternoon, junior Kelsey Horton (Valrico, Fla.) came up with the one the Gators needed most, a two-run bomb to left field that broke a 1-1, five-inning tie in the top of the eighth. With the international tie breaker rules in effect, junior Brittany Schutte (Fountain Valley, Calif.) was placed on second base as the Gators came to the plate. With one out on the board, Horton smacked her second homer of the young season over the left-field fence to bring herself and Schutte across home for a 3-1 lead.

 

USF was able to scratch in a run off a Gina Kafalas RBI single through the right side in the bottom of the eighth, but Rogers fanned the next batter and forced a ground out to earn her third victory of the 2012 season, a 3-2 win over the home-team Bulls in front of a USF Softball Stadium-record crowd of 1,261.

 

Both the Bulls and Gators utilized two pitchers in the early match-up, with freshman Lauren Haeger (Peoria, Ariz.) getting the nod in the circle to start for UF, while USF went with the six-foot lefty Sara Nevins. Haeger fanned three, allowed just three hits and the Bulls’ second-inning run, while Nevins worked 7.1 innings for South Florida, giving up five hits and all three of Florida’s runs, while retiring three Gators by strikeout.

 

After one run for UF in the top of the first and USF’s game-tying run in the bottom of the second prior to five scoreless frames for both squads, the Gators opted to trade Haeger for Rogers in the sixth to provide a spark, while Haeger moved just right on the infield to take over first-base duties. Haeger, Horton, Medina and junior Ensley Gammel (Bakersfield, Calif.) accounted for all of UF’s five hits against the Bulls, as Haeger and Horton collaborated for three RBI.

 

Rogers, who came on with the game tied and was the pitcher of record when Horton clocked the game-winner, picked up the victory, while Nevins (1-1) was charged with the loss. USF went with freshman Sam Greiner in the circle after Horton’s homer, as Greiner tallied one strikeout against four batters faced.

 

After a tough battle with South Florida, UF took to the field for the rescheduled match-up with FGCU – originally slated for Friday evening before rain halted all evening softball action.

 

It took four scoreless innings of both teams battling at the plate before Florida put up four runs in the top of the fifth after making adjustments to a tough FGCU hurler in Shelby Morgan, who shouldered the loss for the Eagles after giving up five of Florida’s seven hits in the contest and four of UF’s five runs. Morgan fanned six Gators, all in the first three innings.

 

The Eagles traded Morgan for Britney Pugh for the final 2.1 innings, but the damage was done as Florida added another run in the sixth on a freshman Sami Fagan (Dunnellon, Fla.) RBI double.

 

A total team effort helped the Gators get into the groove against the Eagles, as senior Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.), Schutte and Medina all had one hit apiece, while Horton and S. Fagan led UF with two hits, respectively, in the final game of the season-opening tournament.

 

After Sunday’s two contests, a total of six Gator freshmen saw their first action donning the Orange and Blue, as infielder Katie Medina (Downey, Calif.) registered her first two hits, while Middleburg’s Briana Little (Middleburg, Fla.) took to the base paths for the Gators in game two against FGCU. Additionally, S. Fagan has a team-leading 10 hits (.667), one double, a triple and two stolen bases.

 

Through the first five games, the Gators racked up three five-inning victories, four shutouts, earned their first extra-innings win, scored 35 runs to opponents’ two and smacked seven doubles, two triples and five homers to assist with 33 RBI.

 

Florida will take the momentum from its five victories in Tampa and look to bring it back to Gainesville as the team hosts Sunshine State opponent Jacksonville for a mid-week match-up to open the home portion of the 2012 schedule. First pitch between the Dolphins and Gators is slated for 5 p.m. from Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium.

 

For all the latest information on Gator softball, including recaps and statistics, visit www.GatorZone.com/softball and follow the Gators on Twitter @GatorZoneSBall. Tune in locally on the radio at 104.9 FM for each game this season, with the call by Mike Gillespie and former Gator All-American Megan Bush. Gator fans unable to attend Wednesday’s home-opener can also enjoy the match-up with Jacksonville Wednesday on GatorVision.tv.

 

 

 

 

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