Saturday March 24, 2012Gator Softball Clinches Series at Arkansas, 3-2, Powered by Three-Run Fifth Inning
The fourth-ranked Gator softball team used a three-run fifth inning for a come-from-behind series clincher, topping Arkansas 3-2 Saturday at Bogle Park to improve to 28-2 overall, 9-1 in SEC play this season.
Senior Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) smacked her third double of the series, while adding a leadoff homer in the fifth that counted as the first run of the game for the Orange and Blue. Junior Ensley Gammel (Bakersfield, Calif.) and freshman Lauren Haeger (Peoria, Ariz.) both went 2-for-3 on the day to contribute to UF’s eight hits on the afternoon.
The Razorbacks struck first in Saturday’s match-up with a three-hit, two-run third inning, but Florida made the contest its third come-from-behind game of the season, thanks to a three-run fifth inning, powered by Moultrie’s leadoff blast.
Haeger earned the nod in the circle for the Gators Saturday, working the first 4.0 innings to improve to 9-1 overall on the year. Haeger fanned four Arkansas batters, walked five and allowed the Razorbacks’ two runs on three hits. Sophomore righty Hannah Rogers (Lake Wales, Fla.) came on in the fifth to finish out the contest for Florida, earning her third save of the season with three innings of hitless, scoreless relief, retiring five Razorbacks by strikeout and walking just one.
Florida limited Arkansas to just three hits Saturday and starter Chelsea Cohen tallied her second loss in the series to move to 11-8 on the season after allowing eight Gator hits, three runs and walking two with no strikeouts through the first five innings. Kimmy Beasley came on for the Hogs to finish out the final 2.0 with hitless, scoreless relief, tallying four strikeouts and walking just one.
Freshman Sami Fagan (Dunnellon, Fla.) led off for the Orange and Blue with a base hit, while Haeger continued her reached-base streak with a single of her own in the top of the first for UF, but much like Friday, the Gators started capitalizing on their opportunities later in the game in the fifth inning.
In the top of the third, Moultrie smacked a two-out double, her fourth of the season and third in the series, before the Razorbacks opted to intentionally walk Haeger for the second day in a row after her two-run shot in the series opener Friday. A fielder’s choice counted as the third out as UF left two on in the frame.
Arkansas got the bats going in the third with a three-hit, two-run frame to put the first runs on the board for the Razorbacks, cashing in on two bases-loaded situation. Devon Wallace connected for a leadoff base hit, while S. Fagan made an impressive diving catch in foul territory for the first out of the inning. Clarisa Navarro and Sierra Bronkey both tallied consecutive base hits to load the bags, enabling an Amanda Geile sac fly to plate the Razorbacks first run of the inning, leaving runners on first and second.
Next up, a hit-by-pitch for Jennifer Rambo loaded the bases again and a walk for pinch hitter Andrea Sullivan sent the second and final run of the stanza home before Haeger fanned Razorback pitcher Cohen looking to retire the side.
Florida responded in the fifth, as Moultrie led off with her seventh bomb of the year to right field to narrow the Arkansas advantage, 2-1, while Haeger connected for her team-leading ninth double of the season with no outs. A foul out counted as the first out of the frame, while a Cheyenne Coyle (West Hills, Calif.) groundout moved pinch runner Briana Little (Middleburg, Fla.) to third.
Next up, junior Kelsey Horton (Valrico, Fla.) knocked her third double of the season to score little, knotting the game at two-all. Next up, sophomore Kasey Fagan (Dunnellon, Fla.) took advantage of an Arkansas fielding error to score Horton and bring the Orange and Blue ahead, 3-2. Gammel connected for a base hit to left field, but a Sam Holle (Tampa, Fla.) fly out ended UF’s scoring splurge.
The Gators traded Haeger for Rogers in the circle to kick off the fifth, and following a UF defensive miscue and a walked Razorback, Rogers fanned three in a row to retire the side. Rogers then sent Arkansas back to the dugout in order in the bottom of the sixth with two fly outs and a ground out to maintain the UF lead.
After a scoreless top half of the seventh for the Gators, Rogers tallied two strikeouts and forced a ground out to seal the deal for the Orange and Blue.
The Gators and Razorbacks will meet in the series finale Sunday, with first pitch set for noon from Bogle Park in Fayetteville. Florida will be looking for its fifth-straight sweep over Arkansas.
For all game notes, stats and recaps, be sure to visit www.GatorZone.com/softball. Gator fans can follow Florida in the final game of the series through online stats, live pay-per-view streaming through RazorVision and live locally and online on the radio at WYGC-104.9, 105 The Game, with the call by play-by-play announcer Adam Schick.
Links for all live action are available at GatorZone.com. For in-game updates on all the action, follow the Gators on Twitter @GatorZoneSBall and check UF’s official softball Facebook page HERE for updates on competition.