Wednesday February 27, 2013No. 4 Florida Softball Uses Three-Run Sixth Inning to Down USF, 3-1, in Tampa
The No. 4 Gator softball team used a freshman Kirsti Merritt (Lake Panasoffkee, Fla.) game-tying RBI single, followed by a sophomore Lauren Haeger (Peoria, Ariz.) two-run blast in the top of the sixth inning to defeat USF, 3-1, in front of a record crowd of 1,611 at the USF Softball Stadium in Tampa Wednesday.
Florida notched its seventh come-from-behind victory of the season to improve to 17-1 overall in 2013. Five different Gators connected for hits on the evening, but one each from freshman Kelsey Stewart (Wichita, Kan.), Merritt and Haeger made the difference in the game against the Bulls (6-9).
Facing a 1-0 deficit heading to the sixth following a Kenshyra Jackson solo homer in the fourth for USF, the Gators put together a game-winning two-out rally, starting with the top of the UF lineup and Stewart.
After two quick outs in the top of the sixth for USF pitcher Sara Nevins turned the Florida lineup over, Stewart connected for a double to left field to spark the Gator offense. Next up, Merritt battled to a full count at the plate before dropping a RBI base hit to left field, plating Stewart for the 1-1 equalizer. The bats were contagious as Haeger went yard next with a two-run blast, her team-tying third of the season, for the game-winning runs.
Nevins and Florida junior hurler Hannah Rogers (Lake Wales, Fla.) faced each other in the circle, Nevins shouldering the loss (2-3) after giving up five hits and three earned runs in 6.2 innings of work with eight strikeouts. Rogers went the distance, improving to 8-1 on the season. The Gator righty fanned five, gave up the Bulls’ one run on five hits through the evening. USF’s Lindsey Richardson came on for the final out in the top of the seventh to add the ninth K of the contest for South Florida.
The Gators’ defense and Rogers shined Wednesday, forcing the Bulls to leave two runners on three times in the second, third and fifth innings before Stewart struck for a clutch unassisted double play in the bottom of the sixth to retire USF after the Bulls were threatening with two on and one out in the stanza.
Rogers then fanned the first two South Florida batters in the bottom of the seventh and popped up the third to clinch the victory for the Orange and Blue.
Sophomore Katie Medina (Downey, Calif.) connected for UF’s first hit of the game in the third inning, while sophomore Briana Little (Middleburg, Fla.) also registered a hit on the evening with a double down the left-field line in the top of the seventh.
The Gators now return home to the friendly confines of Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium for just the second time this season for UF’s second home tournament of 2013. The Orange and Blue will host Drake, Mount St. Mary’s, FAMU and Presbyterian in the three-day tournament March 1-3 at KSP. 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 Gator games will be live on WYGC-FM 105 The Game, with audio streaming available on GatorZone.com. Live stats for all tournament games will be available on Gametracker.
All broadcast information, including GameTracker, radio and GatorVision live streaming links for the Gators this season can be found on UF’s schedule page.