Saturday May 5, 2012No. 6 Gator Softball Takes Series Opener at No. 3 Alabama, 4-1
The No. 6 Florida softball team used a first-inning run and a three-run seventh to top No. 3 Alabama, 4-1, in front of 3,248 fans at Rhoads Stadium in Tuscaloosa. One more win in the series will clinch at least a share of the 2012 regular-season SEC title for the Gators, while a sweep would solidify the title outright for the Orange and Blue.
Both the Gators and Crimson Tide stand at 21-5 in league play, while Florida moved to 44-8 overall on the season, Alabama 45-6. Freshman Lauren Haeger (Peoria, Ariz.) went 3-for-4 for the Gators at the plate, with two RBI, while classmate Sami Fagan (Dunnellon, Fla.) was 2-for-4 with one run and one RBI.
The two SEC foes combined for nine hits, as the Gators out-hit the Crimson Tide, 6-3.
Both hurlers went the distance, as UF ace Hannah Rogers (Lake Wales, Fla.) improved to 26-4 on the campaign, fanning seven Alabama batters and giving up just three hits and one run – a Jackie Traina homer in the bottom of the seventh. Rogers walked just three. In the opposing dugout, Traina shouldered just her second loss of the year (29-2), giving up six hits and three earned runs, while walking two and retiring nine Gators by strikeout.
Florida jumped out with a one-run lead in the first thanks to two stolen bases by S. Fagan, who connected for an infield hopper to get on base. After Haeger reached on a Bama fielding error, moving S. Fagan to second, the Dunnellon High School product proceeded to swipe third. With runners on the corners, Florida attempted a double steal, allowing S. Fagan to scamper home after Haeger’s move to second garnered a throw from behind the plate.
Bama shortstop Kaila Hunt snagged the ball and fired to the dish, but an errant throw allowed Haeger to take second after S. Fagan scored for the 1-0 lead.
After escaping a bases-loaded jam in the first by striking out the Bama side, Rogers was on fire, knocking out the next 13 in a row before allowing the Crimson Tide’s first hit with one down in the bottom of the sixth. Alabama’s Jennifer Fenton squeaked one through the left side, while Hunt followed with a two-out soft liner to right to put runners on the corners. With the tying run at third, Rogers put out the threat, forcing a Cassie Reilly-Boccia groundout to second.
Florida used a three-run, three-hit seventh, thanks to two two-out hits, an infield bouncer from S. Fagan to plate one run, followed by a two-run single smashed up the middle by Haeger for the 4-0 Florida lead.
Traina led off the bottom of the seventh with an opposite field shot for Alabama’s lone run of the contest. Rogers retired the next three in order – including her seventh strikeout to end the game – giving the Orange and Blue the series opener.
Game two of the series will kick off at 4 p.m. (ET) from Rhoads Stadium and Saturday’s contest will air live on ESPN2 with the call by Beth Mowins and Jessica Mendoza. Gator fans can also tune in live locally on the radio or online to 105 The Game, WYGC 104.9-FM, with Adam Schick on the call or follow live stats through Gametracker, accessible on the GatorZone.com softball schedule page.
For all game notes, stats and recaps, be sure to visit www.GatorZone.com following each game through the remainder of the UF/Bama series and through the postseason. 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.