Sunday May 6, 2012Gator Softball No. 3 Seed in SEC Tourney After 5-3 Loss to Alabama in SEC Finale
A three-run, three-hit fourth-inning rally for the Orange and Blue wasn’t quite enough Sunday, as the No. 6 Gator softball team fell, 5-3, to No. 3 Alabama at Rhoads Stadium, giving the Crimson Tide the SEC Championship outright. The Gators finish the 2012 regular season 44-10 overall, 21-7 in league play.
Florida garnered the No. 3 seed heading into the 2012 SEC Tournament in Tuscaloosa May 10-12 and will play the No. 6 seed LSU Tigers at 11 a.m. (12 ET) in the first game of the tournament. ESPNU will broadcast the match-up between the Gators and Tigers. Beth Mowins, Holly Rowe, Michele Smith, Jessica Mendoza and Cara Capuano will cover the span of the tournament for the ESPN team. Should the Gators advance to the semifinal round Friday, they would play the winner of Thursday’s Tennessee/Auburn match-up at 3 p.m. (ET) Friday on ESPNU.
With Sunday’s Florida-Alabama result, Tennessee clinched the SEC Eastern Division, while earning the No. 2 seed heading into the SEC Tournament this week.
Alabama kicked off the game with a four-run first inning after the Tide led off with back-to-back singles from Kayla Braud and Jennifer Fenton. A hit batter then loaded the bags for a Kaila Hunt two-run double, spurring a Gator pitching change from sophomore Hannah Rogers (Lake Wales, Fla.) to freshman righty Lauren Haeger (Peoria, Ariz.) with UA up, 2-0. Jackie Traina and Cassie Reilly-Boccia each rallied for RBI singles, before Haeger retired three in a row.
A Jazlyn Lunceford sac fly in the second quickly put Florida behind, 5-0, after two. A scoreless third for both squads led to UF’s three-run rally in the top of the fourth.
Senior Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) led off with a walk to set up Haeger’s two-run jack for a 5-2 ballgame. Next up, junior Kelsey Horton (Valrico, Fla.) made it back-to-back bombs for the first time since April 1 at Georgia to narrow the margin, 5-3. Sophomore Cheyenne Coyle (West Hills, Calif.) then drew a walk and junior Samantha Holle (Tampa, Fla.) roped a single up the middle for her first base hit in league play – all with no outs. Traina then forced three consecutive outs with a strikeout and two foul-outs to retire UF before the Gators could add to the tally.
Alabama connected for two hits in the bottom of the fourth, but Haeger and the Gators stranded three on before heading to the fifth. Moultrie connected for a one-out base hit, but Haeger hit into a double play to retire UF in the bottom of the inning.
It was three-up, three-down for both teams from then on until freshman Katie Medina (Downey, Calif.) drew a one-out walk in the seventh and moved to second on a groundout, but a fly out ended the game, enabling the Crimson Tide to take the regular-season crown with a 23-5 league record. Bama finishes the regular season 47-6 overall.
Junior Kayla Braud led the Tide at the plate Sunday with a 3-for-4 performance, while five different Gators connected for one hit apiece. Haeger drove in a team-high two RBI with her bomb. Haeger and Horton now lead Florida on the season with 11 homers each.
Rogers (26-6) was charged the loss for the Orange and Blue after making her third-consecutive start and giving up Bama’s four first-inning runs on three hits. Haeger worked the remainder of the game, allowing Bama’s second-inning sac fly and limiting the Tide to five hits. Haeger struck out six and walked just one. Alabama sophomore Jackie Traina (31-2) earned her second win in the series, working a complete game, with six strikeouts, five Gator hits, three runs and three walks.
Florida wrapped up league play having taken seven of nine conference series throughout the 2012 league slate, while splitting a doubleheader with SEC Tournament first-round opponent LSU. Florida swept a doubleheader with MSU and three-game packs versus South Carolina, Arkansas, Ole Miss and Auburn.
The Gators played in front of 10,547 fans at Rhoads Stadium Friday through Sunday throughout the span of the UF-Bama series.
For fans unable to tune in on television as the Gators embark upon the SEC Tournament this week, Gator fans can 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.