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Photo by Jason Wise

Saturday February 9, 2013No. 14/15 Softball Adds Victories Over CSU Northridge and No. 3 Cal at Kajikawa Classic to Improve to 4-0

Tempe, Fla.

Photo by Jason Wise

The Gator softball squad kept the opening-weekend success rolling Saturday at the 2013 Kajikawa Classic using a potent and resilient offense to top Cal State Northridge, 7-0, and No. 3 Cal, 7-4, to improve to 4-0 on the season.

 

The upset over the Golden Bears marked UF’s second win over a top-five team in a span of two days after the Gators topped No. 5 Oregon, 1-0, Friday. UF will have the opportunity to make it three Kajikawa upsets with a weekend finale against No. 13/14 Arizona Sunday morning at ASU’s Farrington Stadium.

 

A young squad with five freshmen starters, UF’s youngsters have proven their talent and stepped up to the plate throughout opening-weekend play in Tempe, accounting for 15 of UF’s 31 hits through the first four games. As a team, the Gators are batting .307 with 24 RBI, seven doubles, a triple and four home runs.

 

 

UF 7, No. 3 California 4

In a thrilling back-and-forth offensive battle with California in the second of UF’s two games Saturday, the Gators got the best of the Bears, 7-4, for Florida’s sixth-straight victory over Cal since 2008.

 

UF put up seven runs on eight hits – two each in the first, fourth, fifth and one in the seventh – and relied on junior ace Hannah Rogers (Lake Wales, Fla.) to do work in the circle for her second top-five victory of the weekend. Rogers fanned six with no walks and gave up just her first four runs of the season.

 

Like she has the past three games for UF, freshman leadoff and second baseman Kelsey Stewart (Wichita, Kan.) sent a bouncer up the middle for her seventh hit of the weekend to get Florida started off right. Classmate Kirsti Merritt (Lake Panasoffkee, Fla.) moved her over to second with a sac bunt and sophomore Lauren Haeger (Peoria, Ariz.) connected for one of her three hits in the contest to bring Stewart home for the early 1-0 advantage.

 

Freshman Taylore Fuller (Trenton, Fla.), playing left field for the Gators against the Golden Bears, came up with her third hit of the weekend to then send Haeger across the dish for the 2-0 Florida lead after just one inning.

 

One swing of the bat for Cal shortstop Cheyenne Cordes in the bottom of the third evened things up as Cordes struck with a two-out, two-RBI double to center field, giving the Golden Bears some momentum and knotting the game at two-all. Breana Kostreba capitalized with a RBI single of her own to score Cordes before Rogers fanned Danielle Henderson to get out of the inning.

 

It didn’t take long for the Gators to counter as junior third baseman Stephanie Tofft (Lincoln, Calif.) drew a one-out walk to set up freshman Taylor Schwarz’s (Palm Beach, Fla.) first career hit, which also happened to be a two-run bomb launched over the right-field fence, to pull UF ahead, 4-3.

 

A feisty Cal squad kept things interesting when Vanessa Alvarez sent a leadoff double to right field in the bottom of the fourth that allowed Golden Bear pitcher Jolene Henderson to help her own cause with a RBI single to left field, tying the game once again at 4-4 after the fourth frame.

 

Hometown hitter Haeger tacked on her second hit of the tilt when she poked one through the left side to score Stewart, who walked to lead off the fifth for the Gators. Winning 5-4, Florida kept it going with another RBI in the stanza from Fuller on a groundout to short that extended UF’s margin, 6-4.

 

The Gators added extra insurance in the top of the seventh on a Haeger RBI double that plated senior Kelsey Horton (Valrico, Fla.) for UF’s seventh and final run of the contest.

 

With two down in the bottom of the seventh, a runner in scoring position for Cal and leadoff hitter Britt Vonk at the plate for the Golden Bears, Rogers capped off the rewarding victory in dramatic fashion by fanning Vonk swinging to seal the deal for the Orange and Blue.

 

Henderson shouldered the loss for Cal as the Golden Bears moved to 1-2 on the season.

 

UF 7, Cal State Northridge 0

Florida used a season-best 11 hits and a stellar pitching performance from sophomore Alyssa Bache (Clearwater, Fla.) to down Cal State Northridge (0-3), 7-0, in the first of two games Saturday afternoon at the Tempe Sports Complex.

 

Bache earned her first victory of the 2013 season against Northridge after working a complete game, just the fourth of her career as a Gator with the four-hit shutout. Bache additionally fanned a career-tying five Matador batters, but gave up five walks on the day.

 

The Gators, who added their second shutout of the season after blanking the No. 5 Oregon Ducks Friday, wasted no time getting after it Saturday against Northridge, starting with an aggressive offensive game plan that featured four stolen bases in the first inning alone. UF tacked on four runs right away against the Matadors and the relentless UF squad kept grinding and creating opportunities to increase the advantage.

 

The Orange and Blue finished with six stolen bases, putting up four runs in the first, two in the second and a final run in the fifth inning.

 

Eight Gator batters connected for hits against CSUN, led by sophomore Briana Little (Middleburg, Fla.) and freshman Kirsti Merritt (Lake Panasoffkee, Fla.) who both went 2-for-3, while freshman second baseman Kelsey Stewart (Wichita, Kan.) was 2-for-5 against the Matadors.

 

Stewart connected for a leadoff single to start the contest for UF, while Merritt drew a walk for runners on first and second. After a senior Kelsey Horton (Valrico, Fla.) sac bunt but both runners in scoring position, freshman Taylore Fuller (Trenton, Fla.) came up  big for the Gators with a RBI double that plated Stewart for the first run of the game.

 

The Gators never looked back as sophomore Bailey Castro (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) sent the second run of the inning home after an infield single. With runners on first and third, the Orange and Blue perfectly executed a double steal to tack on run number three of the frame. With Castro on third, Little reached on a hit-by-pitch and swiped second before freshman Taylor Schwarz (Palm Beach, Fla.) loaded the bags with the second hit-by-pitch of the inning. In her first plate appearance of the season, sophomore Jess Damico (Gray Summit, Mo.) drew a walk to plate UF’s fourth run of the inning for her first RBI of the season.

 

After batting through the lineup, Stewart grounded out to end the first frame for the Gators. Abby Linn, Korinne Randazzo, Maylynn Mitchell and Mia Pagano accounted for CSUN’s four hits in the game.

 

Horton and junior Stephanie Tofft (Lincoln, Calif.) both connected for RBI singles in the second inning and a Fuller sac fly accounted for Florida’s final run in the fifth inning – her team-leading second RBI of the day.

 

Pagano (0-2) was charged the loss for the Matadors after allowing UF’s first-inning damage before being relieved by Brianna Elder for the next 4.0 innings. Crystal Maas put in an inning of work for CSUN to close out the contest for the Matadors.

 

Florida will return to ASU’s Farrington Stadium tomorrow for its final contest of the Kajikawa Classic against No. 13/14 Arizona before heading back to Gainesville for the 2013 Lipton Invitational Feb. 17-19. Gator fans can follow UF’s final game of the tournament on Gametracker through the UF schedule page, or by tuning the radio dial to WYGC-FM105 The Game (104.9) locally with play-by-play Mike Gillespie and former Gator All-American Megan Bush on the call. Fans can also tune into the live audio stream of each broadcast online.

 

Be sure to follow the Gators on Twitter and visit the team on Facebook for all the latest on Florida softball and for updates throughout opening weekend.

 

 

 

 

 

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