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Saturday February 23, 2013Florida Softball Wraps up Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic with 5-3 Victory over Georgia Tech Saturday

Palm Springs, Calif.

The fifth-ranked Gator softball squad capped off the week in Palm Springs with a 5-3 victory over Georgia Tech Saturday at the Big League Dreams Sports Complex in the final contest for No. 5 Florida (16-1) at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic.

 

Florida went 4-1 over its three-day stay in the desert, with wins over Loyola Marymount, Oklahoma State, Syracuse and Georgia Tech, while falling shy in a school-record 12-inning game against No. 7 Missouri Friday.

 

Freshman leadoff and second baseman Kelsey Stewart (Wichita, Kan.) was 3-for-3 on the day with three RBI and a sac bunt to fuel UF’s come-from-behind victory, knocking a bases-clearing double to the left-center wall to pull UF ahead of Georgia Tech, 5-3, in the top of the sixth.

 

Stewart additionally led UF at the plate throughout the span of the tournament with a 7-for-21 (.333) weekend, including a double, two triples, five RBI and three stolen bases.

 

The Gators and Yellow Jackets traded scores throughout the contest, as UF got on the board in the first, while Georgia Tech knotted the game at one a piece in the second and went ahead in the fifth, 3-1. UF rallied until the end and a clutch and patient sixth inning for the Orange and Blue paid off after Stewart’s three game-winning RBI lifted Florida over Tech in the bottom of the frame.

 

The Florida offense was on it early as both freshman Kelsey Stewart (Wichita, Kan.) and junior Ensley Gammel (Bakersfield, Calif.) connected for base hits to lead things off for the Gators. Stewart and Gammel also both swiped bases in the first frame before a sophomore Bailey Castro (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) groundout allowed Stewart to hustle home from third for the 1-0 Gator lead.

 

A Katie Johnsky solo homer to right field in the bottom of the second knotted things up between the Gators and Yellow Jackets and with the game tied at one-all through the third and top of the fourth, Florida switched up the look in the circle, trading starter Lauren Haeger (Peoria, Ariz.) for junior righty Hannah Rogers (Lake Wales, Fla.) in the home half of the stanza.

 

Rogers was effective, forcing a ground out and bringing two strikeouts in the bottom of the fourth inning before Georgia Tech struck with a two-run, two-hit fifth inning to take the 3-1 lead over the Gators on an Alysha Rudnik RBI single and UF defensive error.

 

Florida fought back though, and a four-run, two-hit sixth inning powered the Orange and Blue ahead of the Yellow Jackets, 5-3. A leadoff base hit from Castro, followed by a hit-by-pitch for sophomore Briana Little (Middleburg, Fla.), a sacrifice bunt from junior Stephanie Tofft (Lincoln, Calif.) and a walk drawn by senior Kelsey Horton (Valrico, Fla.) quickly loaded the bases for the Orange and Blue with just one down.

 

Next up, freshman catcher Aubree Munro (Brea, Calif.) was the victim of GT pitcher Hope Rush’s second hit-by-pitch of the inning, which plated UF’s second score of the game to narrow the Tech margin to 3-2. Rushed forced a foul out at the bottom of the Gator batting order, which counted as the second out of the stanza, but turned the Florida lineup over.

 

Stewart did what she does best and knocked a bases-clearing double to the left-center fence to pull the Gators ahead of the Yellow Jackets, 5-3.

 

Rogers held Georgia Tech scoreless in the bottom of the sixth, despite one base hit, and forced three up, three down in the bottom of the seventh inning to improve to 7-1 for the Gators in the circle this year. Haeger worked the first three innings, gave up one run and three GT hits with three strikeouts. In 4.0 innings of relief, Rogers fanned five, gave up one unearned run and three hits to lead UF to its 16th victory of the season.

 

Rush fell to 4-5 this season after giving up UF’s five runs on eight Gator hits, while fanning four Saturday against Florida.

 

The Gators will return back to the Sunshine State Sunday and will head to USF for a mid-week clash Wednesday at 6 p.m. Florida will then return home for its second of two home tournaments this spring. The Orange and Blue will host Drake, Mount St. Mary’s, FAMU and Presbyterian in the three-day tournament March 1-3 at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium. The Gators will open the tournament Friday at 4 p.m. with Drake, followed by a 6:15 match-up with Mount St. Mary’s.

 

All broadcast information, including GameTracker, radio and GatorVision live streaming links for the Gators this season can be found on UF’s schedule page.

 

Be sure to follow the Gators on Twitter and visit the team on Facebook for all the latest on Gator softball.

 

 

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