Saturday March 17, 2012No. 4 Florida Softball Clinches Series Over South Carolina, 1-0
A 1-0 series-clinching victory over South Carolina gave the Gator softball team their 15th shutout of the season in front of an Orange, Blue and green-clad crowd of 1,080 that celebrated St. Patrick’s Day at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium Saturday afternoon. Florida (25-2, 6-1 SEC) has now won all three of its league series thus far this season, and the Gators will be going for their eighth-straight series sweep over the Gamecocks (19-11, 2-5 SEC) in Sunday’s finale.
After belting her first career round-tripper in Friday’s win over USC for Florida’s first three runs of the contest, freshman designated player Bailey Castro (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) returned Saturday to tally her second-consecutive game-winning RBI after smoking a hit down the third-base line to plate classmate Sami Fagan (Dunnellon, Fla.), who led off with a walk. Friday, Castro was perfect at the plate with her three-run homer, while additionally drawing two walks. Castro’s RBI Saturday marked her seventh as a Gator in just 11 games played this season after returning from an injury.
Juniors Ensley Gammel (Bakersfield, Calif.) and Kelsey Horton (Valrico, Fla.) connected for UF’s other two hits of the afternoon, Gammel with a leadoff single to left center in the fourth, while Horton poked a hit through the left side in the bottom half of the sixth stanza, as the trio collaborated for production through the middle of the lineup.
Freshman righty Lauren Haeger (Peoria, Ariz.) and sophomore ace Hannah Rogers (Lake Wales, Fla.) combined for the five-hit shutout, as Haeger improved to 8-1 in the circle, while Rogers chalked up her second save of the campaign after relieving Haeger for the final 2.0. Haeger fanned four Gamecock batters and gave up just one walk and four hits through the first 5.0. Rogers came on with a different look and shut down the Gamecocks in the top of the sixth, giving up just one final hit in the seventh after a sac bunt, caught stealing on a squeeze and her lone strikeout retired the USC side in the sixth.
South Carolina starter Audrey Broyles was equally as efficient, allowing just UF’s three hits in 19 at-bats for the Gators, but the Orange and Blue were able to capitalize on five free passes from Broyles, who worked a complete game and retired two Gators by strikeout. In the third inning, both S. Fagan and Haeger drew walks that led to Florida’s lone run. Broyles moved to 5-3 on the season with the loss.
Gamecocks Samie Garcia, Lauren Lackey, Evan Childs, Chelsea Hawkins and Kaela Jackson all registered hits against UF Saturday, while Garcia drew Haeger’s lone free base to lead off the top of the sixth.
Saturday’s game marked the 25th consecutive win for the Gators in Florida-South Carolina series history. The two teams will close out the series on Sunday, with opening pitch set for 1 p.m. A win would be Florida’s eighth-straight series sweep.
Fans can tune in to the action live on GatorVision.tv, view stats through GatorZone.com on Gametracker, and listen along with Mike Gillespie and Megan Bush at WYGC-104.9, 105 The Game, locally and online for Sunday’s series finale. For in-game updates, follow the Gators on Twitter @GatorZoneSBall.