Saturday April 28, 2012UF Softball All About Senior Michelle Moultrie Saturday as No. 2 Gators Blank UK, 5-0, to Even Series
Saturday’s Florida softball game was all about Gator senior All-American centerfielder Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) as the Orange and Blue evened the series with Kentucky (25-27, 11-13 SEC), blanking the Wildcats, 5-0, at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium on Senior Day. Moultrie and her family were honored in a pre-game ceremony, before mother, Cynthia, threw out Saturday’s first pitch in front of an Orange and Blue-clad crowd that donned No. 16 stickers for UF’s lone senior.
In fitting Senior Day fashion, Moultrie blasted a solo shot, her team-leading 10th homer of the season, to right center in her first at-bat of the contest to give No. 2 Florida (43-7, 20-4 SEC) a lead it wouldn’t relinquish. Freshman Bailey Castro (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) followed up with a two-run jack that took the Orange and Blue up, 3-0, after the first stanza.
As she’s done so many times, Moultrie led the Gators Saturday with a 2-for-4 performance at the plate, with two RBI and one run scored for UF, while freshman Katie Medina (Downey, Calif.) added two hits, a run and RBI to Florida’s tally for the sixth multiple-hit game of her inaugural campaign donning a Gator uniform. As a team, Florida collaborated for eight hits to UK’s five as UF put up runs early in the first (3), second (1) and third (1) innings.
With its 20th shutout of the season following Saturday’s win, Florida also added its 20th conference victory of the year, marking UF’s fifth-consecutive 20-win record in SEC play, all under seventh-year head coach Tim Walton, the sixth 20+ win league record in Florida history, as UF’s 1998 SEC Champion squad went 23-5.
The Orange and Blue enter Sunday’s series finale with Kentucky tied atop the SEC Standings with No. 3/4 Alabama as the Gators and Crimson Tide both boast a 20-4 conference record.
Moultrie, a top-10 finalist for the 2012 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award and USA Softball’s Player of the Year Award, added her second hit and RBI of the day in the second frame for the 4-0 Florida advantage before Medina poked a RBI single through the right side in the third inning to score junior Kelsey Horton (Valrico, Fla.) from second for UF’s fifth run of the afternoon after Horton roped her eighth double of the season.
Freshman righty Lauren Haeger (Peoria, Ariz.) put together a five-hit shutout in the circle for the victory, going the distance for the10th time this season to improve to 13-3 on the year. Haeger fanned seven with no walks to chalk up her fifth shutout of the campaign. Ellen Weaver started the game in the circle for the Wildcats, giving up both homers to Moultrie and Castro before Rachel Riley came on in relief for the final 5.0. Weaver (2-6) shouldered the loss after walking one and giving up UF’s first three runs on the Gators’ two first-inning hits. Riley rallied for four strikeouts, but surrendered six Florida hits and one earned run to finish out the game for UK
After 2.5 shutout innings in the fourth and fifth, Medina struck again in the bottom of the sixth with a one-out double off the wall in deep left center that initially looked like it might clear the fence, while classmate Jess Damico (Gray Summit, Mo.) followed up with a hit-by-pitch for runners on first and second with one out. A Moultrie groundout advanced both Medina and Damico into scoring position for a Gator threat, but a groundout retired the side, leaving just three outs left for the Florida win in the top of the seventh.
Haeger rallied to force a foul out to junior Sam Holle (Tampa, Fla.) at first base before fanning Krystal Smith swinging for the second out. It was then that Moultrie had her final bow on Senior Day, making a grand exit in front of a standing ovation of 1,092 Gator fans at KSP before the final out of the game, as Haeger rung up Emily Gaines in dramatic swinging fashion for Moultrie’s Senior Day victory.
For the second day in a row, senior leadoff Brittany Cervantes led the Wildcats at the dish with a 2-for-3 effort.
UF and UK will clash in the series finale Sunday, with first pitch set for noon, as the Orange and Blue go for the series win.
Gator and Wildcat fans can tune in online to GatorVision.tv for live streaming, follow live stats online through Gametracker, or dial in to WYGC-104.9, 105 The Game, live locally and online to Adam Schick and Megan Bush on the radio. For all links and game day information, visit www.GatorZone.com/softball.
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.