Saturday March 9, 2013Gator Softball Edged 5-4 at Auburn as Tigers Even Series Saturday
Auburn used two runs in the bottom of the fifth and one in the sixth to tie and go ahead of No. 4 Florida (24-2, 1-1 SEC) to even the SEC-opening series between the Gators and Tigers (18-6, 1-1 SEC) with a 5-4 win Saturday at Jane B. Moore Field.
Florida used a freshman Kelsey Stewart (Wichita, Kan.) stolen base in the first and a sophomore Briana Little (Middleburg, Fla.) three-run shot over the left-center scoreboard – UF’s third homer of the series – in the third inning for the early 4-1 lead before Auburn’s late comeback.
For the second consecutive day, Little led Florida at the dish with a 2-for-3 performance, one run scored and three RBI. Stewart and fellow freshman Taylor Schwarz (Palm Beach, Fla.) accounted for UF’s other two hits on the afternoon. In the opposing dugout, Auburn used seven hits to top the Gators.
Marcy Harper (8-2) picked up the win in the circle for the Tigers, allowing UF’s four runs on four hits with six strikeouts through the complete-game effort. Sophomore Lauren Haeger (Peoria, Ariz.) earned the start for the Gators and tossed the first four innings before junior Hannah Rogers (Lake Wales, Fla.) came on for the final two. Rogers moved to 12-2 with the loss after Auburn tied, then went ahead of UF in the sixth.
The Gators came out aggressive Saturday, putting up the first run of the game with two outs on the board in the top of the first when Stewart drew a leadoff walk, moved to second on a freshman Kirsti Merritt (Lake Panasoffkee, Fla.) hit-by-pitch and swiped both third and home for the 1-0 Florida lead, adding her 22nd and 23rd stolen bases of the season.
Auburn battled back in the home half of the first, using an Emily Carosone RBI double to knot things up heading to the second.
A Little three-run bomb, her fifth of the season, broke up the tie in the top of the third for the Orange and Blue, as Little knocked in Stewart and Haeger for the 4-1 Florida lead after the duo reached on a base hit and walk, respectively.
The Tigers were resilient, though, and battled back in the fourth using a McKenzie Kilpatrick RBI single up the middle to chip away at UF’s lead, 4-2. With two outs and two runners threatening for Auburn, Little laid out for a foul ball in left to get the Gators out of the inning.
After a scoreless top half of the fifth for Florida, Auburn knotted things up for the second time in the contest in the bottom of the stanza, first using a Branndi Melero RBI single before Rogers entered the 4-3 game to relieve Haeger. Next up, a Brook Lathan sac fly tied things up at 4-4 before a fielder’s choice and strikeout retired the side.
A three-up, three-down inning for UF in the top of the sixth brought up the home half of the frame, and Auburn used a Kilpatrick solo home run to take the Tigers ahead for good, 5-4, before Harper used two fly outs and a fielder’s choice to keep Florida off the board in the seventh.
The Gators and Tigers will reconvene Sunday at 2 p.m. ET in the series finale at Jane B. Moore Field.
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.