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Friday March 1, 2013No. 4 Gator Softball Cruises by Drake & Mount St. Mary's Friday, Improves to 19-1 to Open Tourney Play at Home

Gainesville, Fla.

The No. 4 Gator softball squad improved to 19-1 on the year with victories over Drake and Mount St. Mary’s on the first day of UF’s March home tournament Friday at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium. Florida defeated the Bulldogs 4-3 and the Mount 8-2 in the doubleheader, the Gators’ first two games of a five-game weekend home stand.

 

Sophomore pitcher and first baseman Lauren Haeger (Peoria, Ariz.) led UF’s offensive efforts at the plate, going 3-for-7 (.439) on the day with three RBI, including a 2-for-4, two-RBI performance in game two against Mount St. Mary’s. As a team, Florida was aggressive on the base paths, swiping 12-of-13 between the two games. Freshmen Kelsey Stewart (Wichita, Kan.), Taylore Fuller (Trenton, Fla.) and sophomore Jessica Damico (Gray Summit, Mo.) each tallied two stolen bases on the day, while six other Gators swiped one bag apiece.

 

Sophomore hurler Alyssa Bache (Clearwater, Fla.) (5-0) and Haeger (6-0) both earned wins in the circle Friday, Bache earning the victory in the nightcap over the Mount (0-7) with a career-best 12 strikeouts, while Haeger worked a complete-game for the win against Drake in the first game of UF’s twin bill.

 

After topping Drake, 4-3, Florida concluded its undefeated day with an 8-2 victory over Mount St. Mary’s. The Gators used a four-run second inning to get things started against the Mount and followed with two runs in the fourth and one each in the fifth and sixth stanzas. UF did a majority of its work against the Mount with two outs, as the first six Gator runs stemmed from two-out Florida rallies. Florida additionally added its eighth run with two down in the top of the sixth.

 

Bache worked her fifth complete game of the season against Mount St. Mary’s, limiting the Mount to just five hits and two runs on the evening. The righty fanned a career-best 12 batters, while walking just three to notch her fifth victory of the year.

 

The Gators did work against MSM with two outs in the second, putting together a four-run, three-hit stanza, started by a Fuller single to left field. Fuller then swiped second before classmate Taylor Schwarz (Palm Beach, Fla.) beat out an infield single and swiped a bag of her own to put two runners in scoring position. A sophomore Katie Medina (Downey, Calif.) walk juiced the bags, pressuring the Mount defense to commit an error on freshman Aubree Munro’s (Brea, Calif.) at-bat that plated UF’s first two runs of the game and turned over the Gator lineup.

 

Next up, Stewart poked a RBI single through the right side for the 3-0 Florida lead. A junior Stephanie Tofft (Lincoln, Calif.) walk loaded the bags again and the Gators were able to capitalize on a Nicole Pagano wild pitch for the fourth run of the inning.

 

After a scoreless third frame, Haeger then struck for a two out, two-RBI double off the right-center wall in the fourth that extended the Gator lead, 6-0. Damico kept the offense rolling in the fifth with a RBI double – her second two-bagger of the year – that took UF up, 7-0.

 

The Mount’s Rachel Gavigan put up the first run of the game for Mount St. Mary’s in the bottom of the fifth, striking for a RBI double to narrow UF’s lead, 7-1, but Bache fanned her eighth batter of the game to retire the side.

 

UF used a leadoff walk from Tofft and a base hit from Haeger for runners on first and second in the sixth before the duo advanced to third and second, respectively on a ball in the dirt. Tofft then scampered home with two outs after an errant throw to third on the play to extend the Gator lead, 8-1.

 

Cat Clifford battled back for Mount St. Mary’s with a leadoff home run in the bottom of the sixth for an 8-2 ballgame, but Bache forced a foul out, struck with ninth K and forced Alexa Tuck to foul out to retire the side.

 

Bache then sat down the side in the bottom of the seventh with her 10th, 11th and 12th strikeouts of the contest.

 

Pagano moved to 0-5 this season with the loss in the circle for the Mount, but fanned 14 Gators and walked another eight through her complete-game effort.

 

In UF’s first game Friday against the Drake Bulldogs (10-7), the Gators put up two runs in the first frame and one each in the third and sixth innings to top Drake, 4-3, in the back-and-forth battle. Drake scored one run in the second and two in the top of the seventh to keep the contest close.

 

Game one’s starting pitcher, Haeger put the Gators on the board first with a RBI single through the right side that allowed Stewart to scamper home from third. Florida started the inning hot with a leadoff double from Stewart, followed by a walk for fellow first-year Kirsti Merritt (Lake Panasoffkee, Fla.). After Stewart scored, Merritt was able to manufacture Florida’s second run on a DU defensive miscue that took the Orange and Blue ahead 2-0 after the first inning.

 

Drake relief pitcher Rebekah Schmidt helped her cause with a solo home run in the top of the second that narrowed the UF margin, 2-1, heading to the home half of the inning.

 

Senior Kelsey Horton (Valrico, Fla.) went yard in the bottom of the third to add the Gators’ third run of the day and extend the UF advantage, 3-1. For Horton, the homer was her third of the season, tying for first on the Florida squad, and the 29th of her career.

 

A Tofft RBI double added the fourth and final run for Florida in the bottom of the sixth, but Drake made things interesting in the top of the seventh with a one-out, two-run homer from leadoff hitter Amy Pierce to bring the Bulldogs within one run, 4-3.

 

Haeger buckled down, though, fanning Zeah Peterson and forcing Hayley Nybo to fly out to close out the victory for the Orange and Blue. Haeger improved to 6-0 in the circle for the Orange and Blue, allowed six hits and Drake’s three runs on the afternoon, while fanning six Bulldog batters in the victory.

 

Stewart, Haeger, Horton and Tofft accounted for UF’s four hits in the contest, while Drake put up six, led by Pierce’s 2-for-3 afternoon.

 

Bulldog starting pitcher Jordan Gronewold (6-4) shouldered the loss for Drake after giving up UF’s first two hits and runs of the game before Schmidt came on for 5.1 innings of relief.

 

The Gators return to the diamond Saturday with a re-match against Drake, slated for 12 p.m. (ET), followed by a tilt with Sunshine State opponent FAMU at 2:15 p.m. ET. Presbyterian and Drake take to the field at 9:30 a.m. in the first game of the tournament Saturday. For a complete tourney schedule, visit GatorZone.com.

 

All Gator games will be live on the radio locally on WYGC-FM 105 (104.9) The Game, with audio streaming available on GatorZone.com. Live stats for all tournament games will be available on Gametracker. For links and all broadcast information this weekend, visit the Gator softball schedule page.

 

 

FLORIDA VERSUS ITS REMAINING TOURNEY OPPONENTS

Date

Opponent

Record

Time (ET)

Series Notes

Last Meeting

3/2

Drake

10-7

12 p.m.

UF leads, 2-0

Friday (UF 4, Drake 3)

3/2

FAMU

4-12

2:15 p.m.

UF leads, 9-0

5/15/09; GVille (UF 12, FAMU 0; 5 inn)

3/3

Presbyterian

6-6

1:45 p.m.

First meeting

n/a

 

 

For live updates, box scores, stats, pictures and recaps throughout the season and UF’s tournament this weekend, 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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