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Tuesday April 24, 2012No. 2 Gator Softball Splits Mid-Week Twinbill With No. 23 LSU

Gainesville, Fla.

After a thrilling 2-1, eight-inning victory in the first game of Florida softball’s Tuesday doubleheader, the No. 2 Gators fell 1-0 in the nightcap to split a mid-week twinbill with the No. 23 LSU Tigers at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium. The Orange and Blue moved to 42-6 on the season, 19-3 in Southeastern Conference play.

With LSU leading 1-0 in the bottom of the seventh in game one, junior Ensley Gammel (Bakersfield, Calif.) knocked a two-out homer over the right-field fence to force UF’s third extra-innings contest of the season. Sophomore Cheyenne Coyle (West Hills, Calif.) led off the seventh with a bouncer up the middle to spark some momentum, but a 4-6-3 LSU double play next put two outs on the board quick. With Gammel down to her last strike facing a 1-2 count, the Gator outfielder went opposite field with her sixth long ball of the season to knot the clash at one-all.

A Rachele Fico strikeout ended regulation, but game one Gator hurler Hannah Rogers (Lake Wales, Fla.) forced a leadoff groundout in the top of the eighth, while the Gator defense turned one of its two double plays on the evening to retire the side, stranding one Tiger on to bring up their chance in the bottom of the inning.

Freshman utility player Jess Damico (Gray Summit, Mo.) reached base with one out on the board in the home half of the eighth after being knocked with a Fico pitch to turn over the Gator lineup, leaving the rest to senior centerfielder Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.), who sent a walk-off RBI double down the left-field line to plate Damico for her seventh game-winning RBI of the 2012 season, giving UF the 2-1, eight-inning victory and marking Florida’s sixth come-from-behind and second walk-off victory of the season.

It wasn’t until the seventh that either team put runs on the board, as LSU used a one-out RBI single from pinch hitter Kailey McCasland to put up the Tigers’ lone run of game one when Ashley Applegate crossed the dish after drawing a leadoff walk to force a Gator rally in the bottom of the frame.

The two squads combined for nine hits in the first game, with eight coming in the final two innings. Moultrie laid down a two-out bunt single in the third for the first hit of the game for either team, while LSU’s Tammy Wray singled through the right side to lead off the fifth for the Tigers’ first hit.

Fico (15-8) shouldered the loss for LSU (33-16, 14-8 SEC), while Rogers improved to 25-3 on the season. UF’s ace went the distance, giving up one run on four hits and two walks, while fanning five for her 21st complete game of the season.

In the nightcap, the Gators faced the same 1-0 deficit heading to the bottom of the seventh, but the Tigers came out on top in the second duel of the evening. Freshman hurler Lauren Haeger (Peoria, Ariz.) faced LSU’s Brittany Mack in the circle in game two, with Haeger dropping to 12-3 on the year and Mack improving to 14-8 with the victory. Haeger also worked a complete game, her ninth of 2012, succumbing to six LSU hits and the Tigers’ one run. Haeger retired nine opponent batters by strikeout to counter three free passes.

Mack held the Gators to four hits, led by freshman Sami Fagan’s (Dunnellon, Fla.) 2-for-4 performance, while sister Kasey Fagan (Dunnellon, Fla.) and Damico each tallied hits in the second game of UF’s doubleheader.

LSU capitalized on a one-out triple from Applegate to deep center when Lauren Houston sent a two-out single up the middle to plate Applegate from third for the 1-0 lead in the top of the second stanza.

Fagan used her speed to reach on an infield base hit to lead off the third, while S. Fagan laid down a bunt single to lead off the fourth for the Orange and Blue, but the Gators couldn’t capitalize in either inning. Florida threatened in the sixth with bases loaded when S. Fagan dropped her second bunt single of the game – a one-out success – before swiping second. Next up, Haeger walked, while Coyle was hit by a Mack pitch to juice the bags.

UF couldn’t cash in though, as a foul out and ground out stranded three Gators. Damico connected for a two-out base hit in the bottom of the seventh, while Moultrie reached on a LSU defensive miscue for runners on first and second with two down, but Mack’s eighth strikeout of the evening gave LSU their 29th victory in the history of the series between the Gators and Tigers.

With two weekend series left in SEC play, the Gators and Alabama Crimson Tide sit tied atop the SEC standings at 19-3 overall in league play. UF will be back in action April 27-29 to wrap up the regular-season home slate with a three-game pack versus Kentucky. Game times are 6 p.m., 1 p.m. and noon at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium. Moultrie will be honored on senior day in a pre-game ceremony SATURDAY before the match-up with the Wildcats.

Gator fans can 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. Saturday’s game will be broadcast live on Sun Sports, while all three games versus Kentucky will be available through GatorVision Online at GatorVision.tv.

For all game notes, stats and recaps, be sure to visit www.GatorZone.com following each game through the remainder of the season. 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.

 

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