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Photo by Andy Meng, Stageshot Photography

Saturday March 10, 2012No. 3/4 Florida Softball Evens Series At No. 9 Tennessee, 5-2, Saturday

Knoxville, Tenn.

Photo by Andy Meng, Stageshot Photography

After falling short against No. 9 Tennessee in the series opener Friday evening, the No. 3/4 softball squad rebounded Saturday with a 5-2 victory over the Lady Vols in Knoxville with an 11-hit performance in front of a sold-out crowd of 1,713 at Lee Stadium Saturday. Florida’s 22nd victory of the 2012 season evened the series at one-apiece, as the two squads will take to the field for the series finale Sunday at noon.

 

The Gators (22-2, 3-1 SEC) returned Saturday with sophomore Hannah Rogers (Lake Wales, Fla.) in the circle, while the Lady Vols (15-4, 1-1 SEC) opted to go with junior hurler Ivy Renfroe. Rogers worked the first 5.0, giving up seven hits, but allowing just two Tennessee runs, while retiring one Lady Vol by strikeout. Rogers picked up the victory to improve to 12-1 on the season, while freshman righty Lauren Haeger (Peoria, Ariz.) earned her first save of the season after 2.0 innings of hitless, scoreless relief with two strikeouts.

 

Not only did Haeger work for the Gators in the circle, but the 2011 USA Softball Women’s Junior National Team member went 3-for-4 at the plate to lead the Orange and Blue on offense. Haeger tallied a two-out RBI single through the right side for UF’s final run of the contest in the fourth inning.

 

Florida leaders sophomore shortstop Cheyenne Coyle (West Hills, Calif.) and senior centerfielder Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) also rallied for multi-hit performances, Coyle with a 2-for-3 effort and Moultrie with a 2-for-4 day at the plate. Junior Ensley Gammel (Bakersfield, Calif.), sophomore Kasey Fagan (Dunnellon, Fla.) and freshmen Katie Medina (Downey, Calif.) and Sami Fagan (Dunnellon, Fla.) got in on the action as well with one hit apiece.

 

Renfroe moved to 4-4 on the season with the loss as the UT hurler went the distance, giving up UF’s 11 hits and five runs, while walking four and retiring two by strikeout. Madison Shipman and Kat Dotson each had two hits to lead Tennessee offensively.

 

The Gators out-hit the Lady Vols, 11-7, and scattered runs in the first, second and fourth innings, with one run each in the first and fourth and three in a key second frame for the Gators.

 

With two down in the first, Coyle sent a bomb to left field, her sixth long ball of the season to give Florida a 1-0 jump early. Haeger sent a two-out hard-hit single up the middle to keep the bats going, but a groundout ended the scoring for the Orange and Blue.

 

Tennessee struck back in the second after Raven Chavanne led off with a single up the middle, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and advanced to third on a Rogers wild pitch. With two outs on the board, Madison Shipman drove in Chavanne on a RBI single to left field, while Kat Dotson followed with a RBI double to deep left center that brought Shipman across home for the 2-1 Tennessee lead.

 

Florida came out swinging in the second, stringing together a three-run, five-hit inning, as Gammel and K. Fagan led off with consecutive base hits to get things started. A freshman Jess Damico (Gray Summit, Mo.) groundout advanced the duo to third and second, respectively, bringing up classmate Medina, who struck with a RBI single up the middle that scored Gammel and turned the Gator lineup over.

 

A S. Fagan fielder’s choice put two outs on the board as sister K. Fagan was eliminated at home, but Moultrie loaded the bags after speeding to first on an infield single to short. A dangerous Coyle struck for her second hit of the day, this time to left field to bring two Gators home for the 4-2 Florida advantage after the top half of the second.

 

Rogers, feeling the momentum in favor of the Orange and Blue, retired the Vols in order in the bottom half of the frame, tallying her only strikeout of the day to retire the side.

 

After a scoreless third for both teams, Florida struck once more in the top of the fourth on Haegers RBI base hit. S. Fagan connected for a perfect slap single to Shipman at short and sped to first to get things started at the top of the lineup. Moultrie struck out, but Renfroe walked Coyle this time around, setting up Haeger’s hit. S. Fagan scored from second, while Coyle made it to third on the play. Coyle was eliminated on a stolen base attempt for the final out of the inning, but not before the Gators pushed another run across to extend the lead, 5-2.

 

After a fairly quiet fifth inning, the home team started a rally in the bottom of the seventh after two straight base hits from Shipman and Dotson to lead off the stanza for the Vols, spurring the change in the circle for the Gators from Rogers to Haeger.

 

With a 1-1 count already on UT’s batter, Haeger walked Burchell before a fielder’s choice eliminated Shipman at home for the first out. Haeger then fanned Cheyanne Tarango and pinch hitter Melissa Davin with bases loaded to get out of the jam.

 

Haeger had a leadoff hit in the seventh for UF, but a sac bunt, pop up and ground out ended the inning, while the first-year returned in the circle to force three straight groundouts for the Lady Vols in the bottom of the seventh, securing UF’s series-evening victory.

 

Florida and Tennessee return to Lee Stadium Sunday for the series finale, which kicks off at noon ET in Knoxville. For all broadcast information, visit www.GatorZone.com/softball and keep up with live, in-game updates on Twitter @GatorZoneSBall.

 

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