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Sunday March 18, 2012Gator Softball Sweeps South Carolina, 7-3, Sunday

Gainesville, Fla.

Seven Gators collaborated for 10 hits Sunday, as the No. 4 Florida softball team completed its eighth-straight series sweep over South Carolina with a 7-3 finale at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium. A total of 1,218 Gator fans came out to witness UF’s 26th straight victory over the Gamecocks (19-12, 2-6 SEC).

In this weekend’s 19-inning series, Florida allowed just four runs, while scoring 17, and were led by freshman Lauren Haeger (Peoria, Ariz.), who batted .556 with five hits, two doubles, a homer and six RBI through the three-game set.

The Orange and Blue improved to 26-2 overall, 7-1 in league play with Sunday’s win as Haeger and Sami Fagan (Dunnellon, Fla.) both had multiple-hit performances, Haeger with three hits (3-for-4) and S. Fagan with two (2-for-3). Haeger scored a run and drove three in, while S. Fagan scored three and drove in one herself.

All nine Gator starters reached base during Sunday’s contest, led by Haeger’s RBI single in the first inning for UF’s first score, a dinger to left field in the third inning, and a RBI double in the sixth inning. In the third stanza, sophomore Cheyenne Coyle (West Hills, Calif.) also went yard right after Haeger, with a freshman Bailey Castro (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) walk sandwiched in between. Coyle drove herself and Castro in as Florida quickly went up, 4-0, after three.

For the 11th tilt this season, the UF lineup collaborated for a double-digit hit performance. Along with Haeger, S. Fagan, Castro and Coyle, three other Gator sluggers connected for a hit, including junior Kelsey Horton (Valrico, Fla.), sophomore Kasey Fagan (Dunnellon, Fla.) and first year Jess Damico (Gray Summit, Mo.).

Florida played stellar defensively, turning a double play in the sixth, while coming up with several clutch defensive plays from Coyle, Damico and Medina in the infield. The Gators took advantage of South Carolina early on with four straight balls that resulted in an S. Fagan walk, and a USC throwing error that put her and Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) both in scoring position to start the game. On the next play, Haeger singled through the left side to plate S. Fagan for UF’s initial score.

The third inning production from the Florida offense was clutch as the Orange and Blue scored three runs off four hits. Haeger started the frame with a two-out solo shot over the left-field fence, quickly followed by a Castro base hit. Coyle tacked on another two runs for the Gators after belting her seventh round-tripper of the year over the left-field wall for two more Gator runs.

The Gamecocks got on the board in the top of the fourth after a Kaela Jackson leadoff single up the middle, while pinch runner Hannah Milks advanced to second on a sac bunt and came home on a Kaitlin Westfall RBI double to narrow the margin, 4-1.

Damico led off the fourth for the Gators with a base hit to turn over the lineup before S. Fagan batted her in with a triple, then proceeded with a score of her own after a Moultrie sac fly for the 6-1 Florida lead. In the bottom of the sixth, S. Fagan doubled to right center before scoring one more time for the Gators on a Haeger double to left field for UF’s final seven runs.

South Carolina put up a fight in the seventh after Lauren Lackey connected for a one-out double, enabling an Evan Childs two-run bomb to left center that brought herself and Lackey home for the 7-3 final. Florida sophomore righty Hannah Rogers (Lake Wales, Calif.) fanned Chelsea Hawkins, allowed a Jackson walk, but then popped Dana Hathorn up to get out of the inning for the Gator win.

Freshman hurler Alyssa Bache (Clearwater, Fla.) earned the nod in the circle for the Orange and Blue, working the first 3.0, giving up just two hits and two walks, while retiring three Gamecocks by strikeout before Rogers (14-1) came on in the fourth to finish out the final four frames for the win. Rogers battled it out, but gave up seven USC hits and the Gamecocks’ three runs. The Gators’ ace gave up two walks and fanned one.

First year Katelynn Howser (8-3) shouldered the loss for South Carolina in the circle after giving up seven of Florida’s 10 hits, five runs and three walks, while fanning just two in two different appearances Sunday. Howser earned the start and worked the first 2.2 before being relieved by Kierstyn White for one and a third, and then coming on again in the fifth for the final 2.0.

Next up, the Gators hit the road for their third SEC road series against Arkansas March 23-25 in Fayetteville. Keep up with Florida by tuning in to WYGC-104.9, 105 The Game, Adam Schick and Megan Bush on the call next weekend. For updated broadcast information, visit GatorZone.com as the series approaches. For in-game updates, follow the Gators on Twitter @GatorZoneSBall.

Notables

§   So far this season, UF has outscored its opponents 183-32

§   This season, Florida has 25 doubles, 9 triples, and 34 home runs

§   SC pitcher Katelyn Howser started the game pitching four straight balls to walk UF leadoff hitter Sami Fagan, and finished the first inning with two of her three walks on the day

§   Sunday’s game marked the first time this series that the Gators scored in the first inning

§   Lauren Haeger and Cheyenne Coyle each hit a home run over the LF fence in the third inning

§   All nine Gator starters reached base Sunday

§   In the 19-inning series with the Gamecocks, the Gators only allowed four runs

§   This is the 11th game this season that the Gators have registered at least 10 hits

§   The highest total runs given up by the Gators in a game this season is five

§   Sunday’s game was the 26th straight Florida victory over South Carolina and the eighth-straight series sweep over the Gamecocks

§   Florida now leads the series with USC, 36-19 all-time

 

 

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