Tuesday February 12, 2013Gators Jump to No. 5 in Both College Softball National Polls
Following a stellar and undefeated weekend for the Gator softball team at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz., the Gators have jumped from No. 13/14 to No. 5/5 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 and USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 Polls, respectively.
For the third consecutive season, the Gator softball team jumped out to a 5-0 start with wins over two top-five teams in No. 3 Cal and No. 5 Oregon, along with No. 13 Arizona over the span of the three-day classic. The Gators also squared off with Creighton in their season-opener and Cal State Northridge.
Individually, Florida was led at the plate by SEC Player of the Week, 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 – Hannah Rogers (Lake Wales, Fla.) with top-five wins against Oregon and Cal, 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, shut out two squads (Oregon, Northridge) and run-ruled one (Creighton).
Next up, Stewart and the Gators 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.