Saturday May 19, 2012No. 5 Seed UF Softball Uses Six Homers, 20 Hits, in Two Elimination Games Saturday to Stay Alive in NCAA Tourney
A resilient Gator softball squad battled through two elimination games Saturday on the second day of the 2012 NCAA Softball Gainesville Regional, downing UCF, 7-1, and FGCU, 6-2, to stay alive in the NCAA tournament. The Orange and Blue racked up six home runs and 20 hits on the day – including14 to tie a season high against the Eagles – to advance to Sunday’s contests vs. the USF Bulls.
Florida and USF will first take to the field at 1 p.m. The Gators will need two wins Sunday to be one of 16 teams in the country to advance to Super Regionals. Should UF take game one from USF, the ‘if necessary’ contest is slated for 3:30 p.m. from Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium. One win Sunday for the Bulls would punch a ticket to Super Regionals for the team from Tampa.
Junior Kelsey Horton (Valrico, Fla.), senior Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) and freshman Lauren Haeger (Peoria, Ariz.) led UF at the plate Saturday, Horton with a perfect 4-for-4 performance, including two bombs against the Eagles in the nightcap. Moultrie, who was 4-for-4 versus FGCU, finished the day 5-for-7 (.714) with five-consecutive hits carried over from game one to her perfect performance in game two. Haeger dropped a team-best three bombs, including two against UCF, for four RBI and three runs scored to help lead UF’s efforts.
Junior third baseman Sam Holle (Tampa, Fla.) knocked her first dinger of the season in the nightcap to contribute to Florida’s season-best four overall against the Eagles. For Holle, the homer was the fifth of her career.
Florida ended both the UCF (39-19) and FGCU (38-24) postseason runs to improve to 48-12 overall on the year and 23-17 all-time in NCAA Regional action.
The Gators jumped out to a 2-0 lead over UCF early, thanks to a two-run Haeger bomb, her first of the day, and followed to scatter runs in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings to rout the Knights, 7-1, behind Haeger’s 2-for-3, two homer show. Sophomore hurler Hannah Rogers (Lake Wales, Fla.) picked up the win in the circle for the Orange and Blue to improve to 28-7 overall on the year, working five shutout innings, allowing just four hits and one walk, while fanning five.
Haeger came on in relief for the final 2.0, allowing UCF’s lone run on a Hayley Barrow one-run single to left field. The righty earned the start in game two to pick up her 15th win of the season (15-5), while Rogers earned her fourth save of 2012 with two innings of one-hit, shutout relief. Haeger fanned one and allowed five hits and two Eagle runs through the first five innings before Rogers got the call in to close out the final two stanzas.
In a more tightly contested match-up against FGCU, four Gators had two or more hits on the night, led by Moultries 4-for-4, Horton’s 3-for-4, while Haeger and freshman Bailey Castro (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) were both 2-for-4. Freshmen Jess Damico (Gray Summit, Mo.) and Katie Medina (Downey, Calif.) added hits to the show, while Holle contributed her long ball to lead off the fourth.
The Eagles battled, though, plating a run in the fifth on a Jessica Barnes sac fly and a leadoff homer from Emily Lanier – her second of the weekend against UF – in the sixth to start a rally. With the UF advantage narrowed to 3-2 in the sixth, the Gators exchanged Haeger for Rogers, who teamed up with Horton for a caught stealing, then forced a groundout and fly out to retire the side.
Florida backed up its hurlers in the seventh, tacking on three runs on three hits, thanks to Horton’s two-run blast back-to-back with Haeger’s third long ball of the day to provide cushion heading to the seventh, where Rogers finished out her work for UF’s second victory of the day.
Catch tomorrow’s first game at 1 p.m., as well as the if necessary game – if necessary – live on GatorVision.tv, with all links accessible at UF’s TOURNEY CENTRAL page.