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Friday April 5, 2013Hannah Rogers Tosses First Career No-Hitter as No. 3 Gators Take Series Opener Over MSU, 9-1

Gainesville, Fla.

The No. 3 Florida softball team used patience at the plate before breaking open a scoreless tie with a seven run two-out rally in the fourth, featuring a three-run homer by senior Kelsey Horton (Valrico, Fla.) and a grand slam from junior Stephanie Tofft (Lincoln, Calif.), en route to a 9-1 six-inning victory over Mississippi State Friday night at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium.

 

Junior ace Hannah Rogers (Lake Wales, Fla.) made the runs stand up in the circle, hurling her first career complete-game no-hitter (6 IP, 1 ER, 7 K, 4 BB) as the Gators (37-3, 11-2 SEC) won their 15th consecutive contest against the visiting Bulldogs (23-13, 2-8 SEC) to open the three-game conference series. Rogers added the complete-game no-hitter to a career resume that boasts a combined perfect game, four one-hitters and three combined one-hitters.

 

Rogers improved to 22-2 in the circle with the 11th no-no in program history, the last since Gator All-American Stacey Nelson no-hit Arkansas April 26, 2009. The righty has allowed just three earned runs in her last 38.0 innings pitched in Southeastern Conference play and has given up just five earned runs in her last 53 innings in the circle overall.

 

The Gators drew 11 walks Friday night and used four hit-by-pitches – including sophomore Briana Little’s (Middleburg, Fla.) single-season record-tying 15th – to manufacture base runners. Little’s 15th peg of the season tied former All-American outfielder Francesca Enea’s tally from 2010, as UF now has 52 hit-by-pitches this season, seven shy of the school-record 59 in 2006.

 

Horton and Tofft each drove in four runs, while Horton scored two and posted a1-for-1 performance at the plate with her game-winning three-run shot.

 

Rogers started the game hot with strikeout, while handling a UF 1-3 double play thanks to her heads-up defense in the circle to retire the Bulldogs in order in the top of the first and get things started for the Orange and Blue. In the top of the second, Rogers struck with her second K of the game, stranding MSU’s Briana Bell on third to get in a groove and keep rolling. The two-time All-American would fan one in the third and two Bulldogs each in the fourth and sixth.

 

In a classic pitchers duel between Rogers and Bulldog lefty Stephanie Becker (L, 6-6), zeros laced the board for both squads through three and a half innings – both pitchers giving up two walks and tallying five strikeouts heading into the bottom of the fourth – before the Gators found a way, busting it open with a four-hit, seven-run stanza after batting through the order  – all the damage with two outs in the bottom of the frame.

 

With two down for the Gators in the fourth after good contact from both Haeger and Little on fly outs to center field, freshmen Taylor Schwarz (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) and Kirsti Merritt (Lake Panasoffkee, Fla.) both connected for two-out singles, Schwarz through the left side and Merritt up the middle for runners on first and second, the first two hits of the contest.

 

After a little Gator momentum, the Bulldogs opted to trade Becker for Kylie Vry in the circle to face Horton and the Gator senior made the Bulldogs pay with a three-run blast over the left-center fence for the 3-0 UF lead on her sixth bomb of 2013. Vry then walked freshman Taylore Fuller (Trenton, Fla.) and sophomore Jess Damico (Gray Summit, Mo.) to spur another pitching change, this time to freshman Jacey Punches with the top of UF’s order coming to the plate.

 

Punches issued a free pass to freshman Kelsey Stewart (Wichita, Kan.) to juice the bags, setting up Tofft’s first grand slam as a Gator – Florida’s ninth granny this season – for the 7-0 UF lead.

 

Patience at the plate continued to pay off for the Orange and Blue as Haeger walked next before Little was pegged with her 15th pitch of the season. Schwarz was issued another walk for ducks on the pond yet again for the Gators, but Punches popped Merritt up to end UF’s fourth-inning scoring splurge.

 

With runners on the corners in the top of the fifth after a walk, fielder’s choice and hit-by-pitch, the Bulldogs executed a double steal to plate pinch runner Kayla Winkfield from third, as Fuller was called for obstruction on the play, narrowing UF’s lead, 7-1.

 

Horton struck again in the bottom of the fifth with a leadoff walk, while Fuller was hit by a pitch to set up a sophomore Katie Medina (Downey, Calif.) sac bunt that moved both into scoring position and turned over the lineup. Stewart dropped a sac fly to right field to plate Horton for the 8-1 Florida advantage heading to the sixth.

 

Rogers maintained a clean slate in the hits column in the top of the sixth, forcing a groundout along with two strikeouts, her sixth and seventh Ks of the day, to sit the side down.

 

In the home half of the frame, Little drew a one-out walk, while Schwarz was hit with UF’s fourth pitch of the day to put runners on first and second, one out. Merritt and Horton followed by earning free passes, with the latter plating Little with the decisive ninth run to enforce the Gators’ 11th mercy-rule of the 2013 season.

 

UF vs. MISSISSIPPI STATE SATURDAY AND SUNDAY BROADCAST INFORMATION

DATE

TIME

VIDEO

RADIO

STATS

4/6

3 pm

WATCH (GVO)

LISTEN

TRACK

4/7

12 pm

WATCH (GVO)

LISTEN

TRACK

 

NEXT UP

Florida will wrap up a five-game home stand Wednesday by playing host to in-state opponent USF April 10 for the second mid-week contest between the two squads this season, with first pitch slated for 6 p.m. from KSP. The Gators defeated the Bulls, 3-1, in Tampa on Feb. 27, thanks to a freshman Kirsti Merritt game-tying single before sophomore Lauren Haeger knocked a game-winning two-run homer to give UF a 3-1 win. The Orange and Blue will then hit the road for a three-game SEC series at Kentucky April 12-14.

 

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. For broadcast and television information, visit the UF softball schedule page.

 

 

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