Sunday April 15, 2012Two-Out, Fifth-Inning Rally Lifts No. 3/4 Florida Softball to 5-2 Sweep Over Auburn
Fueled by a two-out rally in the fifth, the No. 3/4 Florida softball squad completed a weekend sweep over the Auburn Tigers with a 5-2 victory Sunday for UF’s fifth SEC series sweep of the season. The Orange and Blue have won all seven league series thus far in 2012, and improved to 38-5 (18-2 SEC) on the season with the Sunday win in front of 1,129 fans at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium.
Freshman Sami Fagan (Dunnellon, Fla.) came through with a two-out, two-RBI double to left field for UF’s first two runs in the fifth, while classmate Lauren Haeger (Peoria, Ariz.) followed up with a two-run blast to take UF up, 4-0, after a three-hit, four-run stanza. The Gators would add one more run in the sixth on a Kasey Fagan (Dunnellon, Fla.) sacrifice fly before Auburn put up its two runs in the top of the seventh.
Gator sophomore hurler Hannah Rogers (Lake Wales, Fla.) earned the nod in the circle for the Orange and Blue in the series finale, fanning five with one K each in the first, second, third, fourth and sixth innings. Rogers went the distance, giving up six hits – three in the final frame – and two runs in the seventh, to improve to 22-3 on the season for Florida.
Tiger starter Angel Bunner moved to 11-4 with the loss after surrendering five Gator hits and UF’s first four runs, while walking two Florida batters through the first four and two-thirds innings before Lauren Schmalz came on in relief for the final 1.1. Schmalz was effective, recording AU’s lone two Ks of the day.
Haeger finished the day with a team-leading two hits (2-for-4, two RBI), while S. Fagan was 1-for-3 with a run and two RBI. Notably, K. Fagan had two outfield assists for the Orange and Blue in what was a defensive game from the get-go. Four scoreless innings kicked off the clash Sunday between the Gators and Tigers before Auburn came up with the first base hit in the third. Both teams finished the afternoon with six hits apiece.
After an impressive diving snag on defense for the second out in the first inning, Gator sophomore Cheyenne Coyle (West Hills, Calif.) drew a leadoff walk to kick off the second frame for the Orange and Blue. The shortstop then scampered to second after an Auburn failed pick-off attempt, but Bunner forced a pop-up and foul-out next before a fielder’s choice retired the side.
Auburn threatened in the top of the third when nine-hole hitter Branndi Melero drew two-out free pass to turn over the Tiger lineup, while leadoff Lauren Guzman connected for a base hit to center field to put runners on first and second with two down. Coyle backed up to shallow left center to impressively grab a pop up for the third out of the inning to prevent the Tigers from taking advantage.
A three-up, three-down third for Florida brought up the fourth for the Tigers, who added a hit to their tally in the stanza for runners on first and second with two outs after Brooke Lathan singled up the middle. Rogers fanned pinch hitter, and eventual relief pitcher Schmalz, looking to retire the visitors.
Florida got the bats going in the fourth when Haeger smoked a one-out base hit through the left side, but was eliminated at second on a Coyle fielder’s choice before junior Kelsey Horton (Valrico, Fla.) sent one up the middle for runners on first and second with two outs. A fielder’s choice ended the fourth for UF, but the Gators used stellar defense in the top of the fifth with a double play to bring up a monster bottom half of the inning for the home team.
Junior Ensley Gammel (Bakersfield, Calif.) led off with an infield base hit, while freshman Katie Medina (Downey, Calif.) moved her to second with her team-leading ninth sac bunt of the season. With two down after a fly out, Gammel took third on a Bunner passed ball with the top of the Gator order and senior Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) at the plate. Moultrie drew a walk and proceeded to swipe second for her 19th stolen base of the season to put two runners in scoring position for the Orange and Blue.
Next up, S.Fagan delivered with a two-out two-RBI double, her sixth double of the season, to bring both Gammel and Moultrie across home for the 2-0 Gator lead. Haeger added to the rally with a two-run blast, her ninth round-tripper of the year, to plate S. Fagan and herself to extend the Gator lead, 4-0. A groundout ended the stanza, but not before the Orange and Blue strung together a three-hit, four-run fifth to all but finish off a sweep of the Tigers.
Rogers and the Gators retired the Tigers in order in the top of the sixth, first with a fly out, next with a K. Fagan outfield assist to Haeger at first, while Rogers fanned Caitlin Schultze for her fifth strikeout of the game.
Florida added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth after freshman Jess Damico (Gray Summit, Mo.) led off with a single up the middle, while Gammel then reached on an errant throw by Schmalz after laying down a sac bunt. With Damico on third and Gammel on second after the AU defensive miscue, Schmalz fanned Medina before K. Fagan knocked her first sac fly of the season to center, allowing Damico to tag up and cross home for the 5-0 UF lead. With bases loaded after a Moultrie hit-by-pitch and a S. Fagan walk, a Schmalz strikeout, her second of the day, ended UF’s threat.
Auburn put together a final rally in the seventh, coming through with two runs on three hits to wrap up the game. With Tiger runners on second and third with no outs after an Elizabeth Eisterhold leadoff walk and a Lathan double to center, Rogers handled a bouncer back to the circle for the first out of the seventh, but McKenzie Kilpatrick connected for a one-out an infield single to bring a run home for the Tigers, narrowing UF’s margin, 5-1, and placing runners on the corners for AU. A fielder’s choice counted as the second out, but allowed Lathan to scamper home for a 5-2 ballgame. Next up, Guzman sent a ball to right field for a base hit, but was tossed out at second when K. Fagan struck with her second assist of the afternoon for the third and final out of the game, resulting in the 5-2 final.
The Gators will enjoy a mid-week break before playing host to Sunshine State rival FIU in a three-game pack Friday and Saturday April 20-21. The Gators and Panthers will play a doubleheader Friday, followed by a single game Saturday.
Gator fans can watch live streaming of the remainder of UF’s regular-season home slate on GatorVision through GatorVision.tv (pay-per-view), tune in live locally and online to WYGC-104.9 FM, 105 The Game, with Adam Schick and Megan Bush or follow live stats online through Gametracker, with all links accessible on GatorZone.com/softball.
For all game notes, stats and recaps, be sure to visit www.GatorZone.com following every game this season. 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.
· This is the Gators' fifth sweep of a conference opponent, as they have now won all seven league series in 2012.
· The Gators are 25-1 during day games.
· Head Coach Tim Walton is only eight wins away from career win No. 500.
· Hannah Rogers has only allowed two or more earned runs five times through 29 appearances this year.
· This is the second game in a row the Gators' first hit came in the fourth, and their first run came in the fifth.
· Rogers recorded a strikeout in each of the first four innings.
· Haeger's home run in the fifth recorded her 40th hit of the season. She is one RBI shy of 40.
· The Gators are undefeated (9-0) when their opponent commits at least 2 errors.
· The Gators have committed zero errors in the past five games. They are 23-1 when playing error free.
· The Gators recorded a hit in each of the last three innings.