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Photo by Jason Wise

Sunday February 10, 2013Gator Softball Caps Off Undefeated Weekend in Tempe with 14-3 Win Over No. 13/14 Arizona Sunday

Tempe, Ariz.

Photo by Jason Wise

Four Gators went yard Sunday as the Florida softball squad put on a show at Farrington Stadium to cap off a stellar weekend at the Kajikawa Classic with a 14-3 victory over No. 13/14 Arizona to start the 2013 season undefeated (5-0).


The Orange and Blue walk away from Tempe with victories over two top-five programs in No. 3 Cal and No. 5 Oregon in addition to Sunday’s win over the Wildcats. Cal, Oregon and Arizona were predicted to finish first, third and fifth, respectively, in the Pac 12 preseason coaches’ poll.


Individually, Florida was led at the plate by freshman Kelsey Stewart (Wichita, Kan.), who batted .556 (10-18) and registered a 1.111 slugging percentage over the weekend with 10 runs, two doubles, a triple, two home runs, five RBI and five stolen bases throughout the three-day tournament.


All 16 Gators saw action in UF’s season-opening tournament, including all three pitchers, each of them picking up wins – junior Hannah Rogers (Lake Wales, Fla.) against Oregon and Cal, sophomore Lauren Haeger (Peoria, Ariz.) against Creighton and Arizona and sophomore Alyssa Bache (Clearwater, Fla.) against the Cal State Northridge Matadors Saturday.


Florida registered a .303 batting average as a team on opening weekend with 40 hits, nine doubles, a triple, eight homers – two each by Stewart and freshman Taylor Schwarz (Palm Beach, Fla.) – and 36 RBI. Sophomore Bailey Castro (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) and freshman Kirsti Merritt (Lake Panasoffkee, Fla.) both connected for grand slams, Castro against Arizona and Merritt against Creighton Friday. The Gators were additionally 14-15 in the stolen base category over the weekend.


UF put up 14 runs on nine hits against Arizona Sunday, including five of those in the top of the first frame to get out to an early lead and give Haeger confidence and insurance to work with in the circle. As a team, the Orange and Blue drew 10 walks to aid their winning effort.


The Gators batted through the lineup in the first frame against starting Wildcat hurler Shelby Babcock as Kelsey Horton (Valrico, Fla.), junior Stephanie Tofft (Lincoln, Calif.) and Schwarz all had one RBI each in the first inning, while Haeger crossed home on a Arizona throwing error and freshman Taylore Fuller (Trenton, Fla.) scored on a Babcock illegal pitch.


Florida contained Arizona in the bottom of the first and stranded two of its own in the second before Haeger sat down the side in the bottom of the inning by catching Lauren Young and  Darcy Taylor looking and forcing Alex Lavine to pop up for the third and final out.


The bottom of the lineup came through for the Gators in the top of the third with a Briana Little (Middleburg, Fla.) walk in the seven spot, while a junior Ensley Gammel (Bakersfield, Calif.) walk turned over the lineup to set up Stewart’s second hit of the day, a RBI single up the middle that extended UF’s lead, 6-0, and chased Babcock from the circle in favor of Estela Pinon for the Wildcats.


Florida’s defense shined, especially in the outfield, in the bottom of the third when UF turned a double play allowing Horton to show off her arm. Zona’s Brigette Del Ponte flew out to Horton in right field and Horton gunned to Tofft at third to throw leadoff hitter Chelsea Suitos out on the play. On the next at bat, Little followed a hard-hit Kelsey Rodriguez ball into the left-field fence to make the third out of the inning and maintain the 7-0 Florida lead.


Arizona tacked on its first run of the contest in the bottom of the fourth thanks to a Chelsea Goodacre leadoff long ball to left, but Florida got the run back in the top of the fifth when Stewart slapped a homer over the centerfield fence in the top of the fifth to give the Gators their eighth-run of the contest


A Del Ponte RBI double and Rodriguez sac fly added two to Arizona’s tally in the bottom of the fifth for a 8-3 ballgame and a scoreless sixth inning for both squads set up a monster seventh for the Orange and Blue.


The Gators put up six more runs on three hits in the top of the frame, started by back-to-back solo shots for UF as Schwarz and Gammel both jacked balls out of the park. With bases loaded after Stewart and Merritt walks and a Wildcat defensive error that put Horton on first, Castro – pinch hitting for Haeger – knocked UF’s second grand slam out of the season to clear the bags with no outs on the board. A pop up and two strikeouts, including Rogers’ first-career at-bat, retired the side for the Gators and sealed the deal as Hannah, who relieved Haeger in the circle for the final two outs, handled a groundout and fanned Rodriguez and Goodacre to retire the side in the bottom of the seventh.


Haeger (2-0) finished the morning with three strikeouts through 5.0 innings pitched and allowed the Wildcats three earned runs, while giving up four walks before Rogers came on for two innings of scoreless relief.


Babcock shouldered the loss for the Wildcats to move to 2-2 on the season.

Florida Kajikawa Classic Results







Farrington Stadium

W, 13-3 (5 inn.) (Haeger)


No. 5/6 Oregon

Tempe Sports Complex SW

W, 1-0 (Rogers)


Cal State Northridge

Tempe Sports Complex NW

W, 7-0 (Bache)


No. 3/3 Cal

Tempe Sports Complex NE

W, 7-4 (Rogers)


No. 13/14 Arizona

Farrington Stadium

W, 14-3 (Haeger)


Next up, Florida will visit Jacksonville University for a mid-week tilt Feb. 13 before returning home for UF’s 2013 Lipton Invitational Feb. 15-17. The Gators will host UNC Wilmington, Savannah State, Western Carolina and Charleston Southern in the first of two home tourneys for UF this season at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium.


Gator fans can follow all games this season 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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