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Friday April 12, 2013No. 3/4 Florida Softball Opens Series at No. 18/19 Kentucky with 7-4 Victory Friday

Lexington, Ky.

The No. 3/4 Gator softball squad used three extra-base hits to open the series with SEC Eastern Division rival No. 18/19 Kentucky with a 7-4 victory at the UK Softball Complex Friday evening. The Orange and Blue improved to 40-4 on the season and chalked up their 13th SEC victory to improve to 13-3 in league play and 7-2 (.777) over top-25 competition this season, tops in the league.


Florida put up two runs quickly in the first, thanks to a junior Stephanie Tofft (Lincoln, Calif.) two-run double, while sophomore Lauren Haeger (Peoria, Ariz.) struck with a three-run bomb in the fifth, followed by senior Kelsey Horton’s (Valrico, Fla.) two-run blast for insurance in the seventh.


The second game of the series Saturday will air live on ESPNU, UF’s second appearance on the ESPN family of networks this season, with Cara Capuano and Cheri Kempf on the call. First pitch between the Gators and Tigers Saturday is slated for 1 p.m.


Horton went 2-for-3 at the dish for the Gators, while Tofft and freshman Kelsey Stewart (Wichita, Kan.) were both 2-for-4 Friday, as six different Gator batters found the hits column in the series opener. Haeger’s three RBI paced the squad, while Horton and Stewart botch scored twice for Florida.


Junior ace Hannah Rogers (Lake Wales, Fla.) worked her 16th complete game of the season to improve to a SEC-leading 23-3 in the circle for the Gators. The righty gave up just three earned runs on seven UK hits, walked five and fanned four through the seven-inning contest opposite Wildcat hurler Lauren Cumbess.


Cumbess (8-4) shouldered the loss in the circle for Kentucky (7.0 IP, 9 H, 7 ER, 2 BB, 7 K), but accounted for two Wildcat hits and two of three RBI for the home team on the night offensively.


A Tofft two-run double plated Florida’s first two runs of the game in the top of the first, setting the tone for the Orange and Blue for the series-opening match-up. Stewart first led off with an infield bouncer before Horton drew a one-out walk to set up Tofft’s team-leading 13th double of the season. For the UF third baseman, Friday’s double marked her second straight game with a two-RBI two-bagger.


The Wildcats then countered with a run of their own in the bottom of the second on a Cumbess solo home run for a 2-1 ballgame.


After zeros on the board for both squads in the third and fourth frames, Haeger struck next with a three-run bomb, her team-leading 13th of the season and first since a March hot streak. The top of the Gator lineup set the table for the sophomore designated player, as Stewart led off the bottom of the fifth with a single up the middle before freshman Kirsti Merritt (Lake Panasoffkee, Fla.) beat out a bunt for a base hit to put runners on first and second for UF, no outs to set up Haeger’s bomb.


Haeger blasted a 2-2 Cumbess offering to left field to extend the Florida lead, 5-1, helping the Gators put up a three spot in the top of the frame, but a resilient Kentucky squad didn’t back down.


Cumbess battled for the Wildcats in the home half of the fifth, using a RBI double to right to narrow the Florida lead, 5-2, while Kentucky used an Ansley Smith RBI bloop single to shallow left and a Maisie Steed sacrifice fly to plate two runs in the bottom of the sixth, bringing UK within two runs, 5-4.


Horton handled business in the top of the seventh, using a two-run jack to left for the 7-4 Florida cushion heading to the bottom of the stanza. Rogers worked quickly, retiring the Wildcats in order in the home half of the frame for UF’s 13 SEC victory – her 23rd win in the circle this season.










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Following the weekend set with the Wildcats, the Orange and Blue will visit No. 25 FSU Wednesday, April 17, for a mid-week tilt in Tallahassee, the second game of the Sunshine Showdown between the Gators and Noles this season. The two squads met just three weeks ago in an epic showdown at UF’s Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium, the Gators taking the 7-3 victory on a Briana Little walk-off grand slam in front of the largest crowd in Florida history. UF will then play host to Longwood in a weekend three-game set with a doubleheader Saturday (4/20) and the finale Sunday (4/21) to wrap up non-conference play. UF will complete the 2013 regular season with Georgia at home (4/26-28) before its conference finale at South Carolina (5/3-5/5).


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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