Wednesday April 10, 2013No. 3/4 Gator Softball Adds 9-1, Six-Inning Victory Over USF in Mid-Week Action
The No. 3/4 Florida softball squad added a 9-1, six-inning victory over Sunshine State opponent USF Wednesday evening in non-conference action at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium. The Gators improved to 39-4 overall on the year and will take their 12-3 Southeastern Conference record to Lexington this weekend for a three-game conference set against Kentucky, UF’s third-to-last league series of the season.
After USF (32-12) plated the first run of the contest in the top of the second, Florida countered with a three-run, three-hit third frame, fueled by a freshman Kirsti Merritt (Lake Panasoffkee, Fla.) two-run triple to pull the Gators ahead, 3-1. The Orange and Blue never looked back, adding a run in the third, two in the fourth and three in the sixth.
Freshman Taylor Schwarz (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) and junior Stephanie Tofft (Lincoln, Calif.) both roped doubles to compliment Merritt’s triple, Schwarz hitting left field in the third and Tofft finding the left-center gap in the fourth inning.
Sophomore Briana Little (Middleburg, Fla.) was pegged with her 16th pitch of the season – a new Florida single-season record, eclipsing former Gator All-American Francesca Enea’s 15 in 2010. Little and Merritt both reached on hit-by-pitches Wednesday, elevating UF’s season total to 57.
Sophomore righty Lauren Haeger (Peoria, Ariz.) (6 IP, 1 ER, 5 K, 2 BB) earned the nod at pitcher for the Gators and worked her sixth complete game of the season to pick up her 11th win in the circle (11-1). Haeger retired the Bulls in order in the first, third and sixth innings to limit USF’s offense.
Florida posted 10 hits Wednesday facing three different USF pitchers, first Lindsey Richardson (10-4), who was charged the loss after 2.0 innings of work when the Gators put up four runs on four hits and drew three walks. Erica Nunn and Sam Greiner each saw time in the circle for the Bulls, Nunn in the third and fourth, Greiner in the fifth and sixth.
Haeger used two straight Ks and a ground out to kick off the first inning, retiring the Bulls in order to set the tone for the game, limiting South Florida to just four hits through the span of the night.
USF put up the first run of the contest in the top of the second inning after Kenshyra Jackson led off with a double down the left-field line and came home on a speedy Ashli Goff two-out infield single to take the Bulls up, 1-0.
Florida battled back in the home half of the inning, though, first using a freshman Kelsey Stewart (Wichita, Kan.) RBI single to shallow center as the equalizer to plate sophomore Briana Little (Middleburg, Fla.) – who reached on a single of her own to shallow left field. Next up, Merritt delivered her two-run triple to deep right center for the 3-1 Gator lead heading to the third. For Merritt, the three-bagger marked her third of the season and the 14th for the Orange and Blue.
A strike out – Haeger’s third of the day – ground out and fly out sat down the side in the top of the third, keeping the momentum in favor of the Gators.
Florida added a run to its lead in the home half of the third frame, started by a Schwarz double, her second of the season, before Little and sophomore Katie Medina (Downey, Calif.) both drew one-out walks to juice the bags for sophomore Jess Damico (Gray Summit, Mo.). Damico drew a bases-loaded walk for her 21st RBI of the season before a fielder’s choice and fly out ended the stanza.
In the top of the fourth after Haeger’s fourth strikeout of the game to leadoff hitter Lee Ann Spivey and a base hit for USF designated player Morgan Litchfield, the Gators nixed any shot of a Bulls run in the frame with a 5-4-3 double play from Tofft at third to Stewart at second and then to Schwarz at first to retire the side.
The Orange and Blue put up two more runs in the bottom of the fourth thanks to a Tofft two-run double to left center that plated senior outfielder Kelsey Horton (Valrico, Fla.) and Schwarz, who reached on a one-out walk and one-out infield single, respectively, for the 6-1 UF advantage.
UF then used three runs in the bottom of the sixth to enforce the run-rule, Florida’s 12th of the year and 15th come-from-behind. Tofft led off with an infield single to the USF second baseman before Little was hit for runners on first and second, no outs. With one down, freshman Taylore Fuller (Trenton, Fla.), pinch hitting for Damico, knocked a RBI single to left for the 7-1 lead after Tofft crossed, also turning over the Gator lineup.
Next up, Stewart sent an infield single to third base to load the bags, but a USF defensive error on an overthrow to third attempting an out allowed two Florida runs – Little and Fuller – to cross the dish for the 9-1 differential.
The Orange and Blue will now hit the road for a three-game SEC series at Kentucky April 12-14. The weekend set will serve as UF’s third-to-last conference series of the season, with just Georgia (April 26-28) and South Carolina (May 3-5) remaining before the 2013 SEC Tournament. The Wildcats have taken five of the last six meetings between the two teams, sweeping UF in Lexington in 2011 before taking two-of-three from Florida in Gainesville last season. Saturday’s game (4/13) will air live on ESPNU with Cara Capuano and Cheri Kempf on the call.
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