Friday March 16, 2012No. 4 Gator Softball Takes Five-Inning Series Opener Over South Carolina, 9-1
The No. 4 Florida softball team added its 12th run-rule victory of the campaign Friday with a 9-1, five-inning win over conference foe South Carolina at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium in the first contest of the three-game weekend set. The Orange and Blue improve to 24-2 on the season, 5-1 in 2012 league play, while the Gamecocks moved to 19-10 (2-4 SEC) on the year with the loss.
Florida continued its efficient offensive production with nine runs on nine hits, while drawing nine walks between USC’s two hurlers, starter Katelynn Howser (4) and relief pitcher Kierstyn White (5) – neither of whom fanned a Gator batter through the five-inning match-up.
Seven different Gators recorded hits, led by three freshmen, designated player Bailey Castro (Pembroke Pines, Fla.), second baseman Katie Medina (Downey, Calif.) and Friday’s first baseman Lauren Haeger (Peoria, Ariz.). Castro and Medina were both perfect at the plate this evening, Castro with a three-run blast in the second for UF’s first three runs of the game, Medina with a 2-for-2 performance and two runs scored, while Haeger put together a 2-for-3 showing with three RBI on the evening.
The Gators strung together a six-run second inning, while scoring one in the third and two in the fifth to complete the contest. USC’s lone run came in the top of the fourth frame on a Kaela Jackson RBI double to right-center to bring home Dana Hathorn, who connected for a one-out base hit.
Sophomore Hannah Rogers (Lake Wales, Fla.) worked her 11th complete game of the season to improve to 13-1. The Gators’ ace gave up just four hits and one run, while ringing up two Gamecocks and walking two others. Starter Howser took the loss for USC, moving to 8-2 on the season after giving up Florida’s first six runs, walking four and giving up five Gator hits. White came on for the final 2.1, allowing four more UF hits and three runs to complete the contest.
After committing two uncharacteristic errors in the first inning, the Gators settled and brought the bats in the second for six runs on five hits for the early 6-0 lead.
Sophomore Cheyenne Coyle (West Hills, Calif.) got the Gator started right with a leadoff base hit, while junior Kelsey Horton (Valrico, Fla.) drew one of her three walks on the night for two runners on when Castro came up to the plate. After smashing a three-run bomb Wednesday that didn’t count in UF’s ‘No Game’ with Chattanooga, Castro rebounded for her first official career round-tripper, a three-run shot to left center that gave UF a 3-0 lead to work with. After Medina and freshman Sami Fagan (Dunnellon, Fla.) registered hits, senior Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) drew a two-out walk to load the bases, bringing up Haeger, who roped her team-leading seventh double of the season to deep left center to clear the bags and take Florida ahead, 6-0.
The Orange and Blue tacked another run on in the third to go up, 7-0, while the Gamecocks answered with their lone score in the in the fourth. Florida's final two runs on the night came in the fifth and final inning as four straight Gators reached base with White in the circle. Sophomore Kasey Fagan (Dunnellon, Fla.) sent a RBI single through the right side for UF’s ninth run of the tilt, while Moultrie connected for just her first double of the year to score S. Fagan, who reached on an error by the USC first baseman that counted as the ninth and final run needed to enforce the eight-run rule with a 9-1 series win.
For the Gators, the series-opening victory counted as their 24th consecutive in the history of the series with the Gamecocks. UF and USC will do it again Saturday in the second game of the set, with first pitch at 1 p.m. Florida will be aiming for its eight straight series sweep.
Saturday’s contest will air live on Sun Sports with Larry Vettel and Megan Bush, while Mike Gillespie will call the action on the radio at WYGC-104.9, 105 The Game, locally and online. For in-game updates, follow the Gators on Twitter @GatorZoneSBall.