Friday March 8, 2013No. 4 Florida Softball Opens SEC Play with 13-0 Run-Rule Win at Auburn
The No. 4 Florida softball squad opened the 2013 Southeastern Conference schedule with a 13-0, five-inning victory over Auburn Friday at Jane B. Moore Field to kick off the series between UF and UA. The Gators used 10 hits and drew eight walks on the evening to seal the victory over the Tigers and improve to 24-1 on the season with their first league win of the season.
With their victory Friday, the Gators are now 24-9 all-time on SEC opening day and 11-4 under head coach Tim Walton in league openers. The run-rule win marked UF’s eighth of the season.
Junior hurler Hannah Rogers (Lake Wales, Fla.) and sophomore righty Alyssa Bache (Clearwater, Fla.) combined for the shutout, Rogers earning the win to improve to 12-1 after four innings of scoreless work to start things off for UF. The righty gave up just two hits and fanned six before Bache came on to close it out in the fifth and final frame. Bache held the Tigers scoreless, allowing just one Auburn hit in the final stanza.
Sophomores Briana Little (Middleburg, Fla.) and Lauren Haeger (Peoria, Ariz.) led Florida at the plate, Little with a perfect 2-for-2 performance, one RBI, four runs scored, a walk and a hit-by-pitch, while Haeger went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and a three-run jack in the fourth. Sophomore Bailey Castro (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) also went yard with her second pinch hit grand slam of the season over the scoreboard and beyond in left center in the fourth inning, upping UF’s grand slam total to six this season.
A Little leadoff double in the top of the second frame – her third of the season – got things started for the Gators offensively before junior Stephanie Tofft (Lincoln, Calif.) drew a one out walk, followed by a freshman Taylor Schwarz (Palm Beach, Fla.) hit-by-pitch that loaded the bags. Freshman Taylore Fuller (Chiefland, Fla.) lined a hard-hit ball to the AU third baseman to plate Little for UF’s first run of the game on the fielder’s choice.
Little and Tofft collaborated for UF in the top of the third to take the Orange and Blue up, 4-0, after the visiting half of the stanza after both connected for RBI hits – Little a RBI single to left and Tofft a two-RBI double to right field to cap off a four-hit inning for UF.
Tiffany Howard accounted for AU’s first hit of the game in the third on a one-out bunt single, but a fielder’s choice and Rogers strikeout retired the Tigers and prevented any scoring opportunities in the frame.
The Orange and Blue used a five-hit, eight-run performance in the fourth to extend its lead over the Tigers Friday to 12-0; a Haeger three-run shot lined straight to the scoreboard in left center and a Castro pinch hit grand slam blasted way over the scoreboard highlighted the inning for the Gators. Haeger’s bomb counted as her team-leading seventh of the season and chased AU starter Hilary Mavromat from the circle, while Castro’s grand slam off righty hurler Lexi Davis was her second pinch hit grand slam of the season, contributing to UF’s six on the year.
With one down in the bottom of the fourth, Rogers worked her way out of an Auburn bases-loaded jam, using a strikeout and a groundout to hold the Tigers scoreless.
Auburn opted to go with Tiffany Howard in the circle in the fifth, but the Gators kept the momentum going. Little was tagged with her team and SEC-leading ninth pitch of the season, while senior Kelsey Horton (Valrico, Fla.) drew her team-leading 18th walk of the year. Both moved into scoring position on a fly out and Little scored on a Howard wild pitch to take UF ahead, 13-0.
Bache came on to finish the shutout in the fifth for UF, tossing an inning of scoreless relief to close out the Gators’ first conference victory.
Mavromat shouldered the loss for Auburn to move to 5-2 on the season, while Florida faced three different Tiger pitchers on the day. Emily Carosone, Brooke Lathan and Tiffany Howard accounted for AU’s three hits.
Florida and Auburn will tilt at 2 p.m. (ET) Saturday in the second game of the series at Auburn’s Jane B. Moore Field before wrapping up with the finale Sunday at 2 p.m.
All Gator softball games this season will be live locally on WYGC-FM 105 (104.9) The Game, with audio streaming available on GatorZone.com. For all other broadcast and television information, visit the UF schedule page
NEXT UP FOR THE GATORS
Following its weekend set with Auburn, Florida will return back to the Sunshine State and enjoy a week free of competition before hosting SEC Eastern Division rival Tennessee in the Gators’ SEC home opener at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium March 15-17. UF’s series with the Lady Vols will start an eight-game home stand for the Orange and Blue to finish out the month of March. Always a pivotal series in the SEC standings, all three Gators | Vols match-ups will air on television: Sun Sports Friday, ESPNU Saturday and FSN Sunday.
For live updates, box scores, stats, pictures and recaps throughout the season, be sure to visit UF on GatorZone, follow the Gators on Twitter and visit the team on Facebook for all the latest on Gator softball.