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Photo by Jason Wise

Monday February 11, 2013UF Softball Freshman Kelsey Stewart Tabbed SEC Player of the Week

Birmingham, Ala.

Photo by Jason Wise

Florida freshman second baseman Kelsey Stewart (Wichita, Kan.) is the SEC Player of the Week for her contributions to the Gator squad that went 5-0 at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz. to open the 2013 season.


Stewart helped lead the Gators to wins over two top-five programs in No. 3 Cal (7-4) and No. 5/6 Oregon (1-0), in addition to a victory over No. 13/14 Arizona (14-3). The Gators also defeated Creighton (13-3) in their season opener and Cal State Northridge (7-0) as part of the opening-weekend slate.


In her Gator debut, Stewart rattled off a leadoff triple for UFs first hit of the 2013 campaign and never looked back. After connecting for the leadoff hit in four of UFs five games over the weekend, Stewart came around to score the game-winning run for the Orange and Blue against Creighton, Northridge, Cal and Arizona.


Stewart 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.


The Wichita, Kan., native went 2-for-3 with a triple, homer and walk against Creighton, 2-for-3 with double and two stolen bases against No. 5/6 Oregon, 2-for-5 with a stolen base against Northridge, 1-for-3 with a walk and stolen base against No. 3 Cal and 3-for-4 with a walk, double, homer and stolen base against No. 13/14 Arizona to wrap up the Kajikawa Classic.


As a team, UF outscored its opponents 42-10 at the season-opening tournament. The Gators registered a .303 batting average 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.


Florida opened the season 5-0 for the third straight year.


Next up, Stewart and the Gators will visit Jacksonville University for a mid-week tilt Feb. 13 before returning home for UFs 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.


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