Sunday April 21, 2013Florida Softball Blanks Longwood, 8-0, in Six to Sweep Series Behind Hannah Rogers No-Hitter Sunday
Behind a junior Hannah Rogers (Lake Wales, Fla.) no-hitter and perfect 3-for-3 performances at the plate from freshman Kirsti Merritt (Lake Panasoffkee, Fla.) and junior Stephanie Tofft (Lincoln, Calif.), the No. 3/4 Florida softball team wrapped up the 2013 non-conference slate with an 8-0 run-rule victory over Longwood (33-14) to sweep the series with the Lancers at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium Sunday.
After improving to a nation-best 45-5 overall this season, and boasting a 14-4 conference record, the Gators will enjoy a mid week free of games before welcoming SEC Eastern Division rival Georgia to town April 26-28 for UF’s regular-season home finale, as the Orange and Blue will honor seniors Ensley Gammel (Bakersfield, Calif.) and Kelsey Horton (Valrico, Fla.) prior to Saturday’s contest.
Florida head coach Tim Walton, the UAA, IMG College and 105 The Game will additionally debut a special three-show series this week, The Tim Walton Show, MONDAY, April 22, from 6 to 7 p.m. at Ballyhoo Grill in Gainesville. Gator fans will be able to attend the show live at Ballyhoo and ask questions on air. Fans can also call 352-372-3700 to ask questions to Coach Walton during the broadcast. Adam Schick, Gator soccer, softball & women’s basketball play-by-play commentator and co-host of The Midday Tailgate on WYGC – 104.9FM, 105 The Game, each weekday, will play host to all three shows.
Rogers tossed her second complete-game no-hitter of the 2013 campaign in Sunday’s series finale against the Lancers (6.0 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 K), the first Gator since Stacey Nelson in 2009 to have two in a season, bringing her weekend strikeout total versus Longwood to 19. The Gators’ ace improved to a staggering 25-3 in the circle (1.41 ERA) with two wins, while sophomores Lauren Haeger (Peoria, Ariz.) and Alyssa Bache (Clearwater, Fla.) both picked up wins in the circle in the past week, Bache (8-0) with her second over a top-25 team Wednesday versus No. 23 FSU, while Haeger fanned a season-high 10 batters in the nightcap of Saturday’s doubleheader to improve to 12-2 in the circle.
Tofft batted an impressive .800 (8-for-10) in the series against the Lancers with two doubles, a triple and three homers, accumulating nine RBI through the two day set. On the week, including UF’s mid-week run-rule against the Seminoles, Tofft turned in a .769 clip at the plate (10-for-13).
The Orange and Blue backed up Rogers in the circle with a 14-hit performance, highlighted by 3-for-3 days for both Merritt and Tofft, while freshmen Taylor Schwarz (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) and Kelsey Stewart (Wichita, Kan.) were 3-for-4 and 2-for-3, respectively. Pinch hitter Bailey Castro (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) and sophomore classmate Jessica Damico (Gray Summit, Mo.) both were 1-for-1 and senior Kelsey Horton (Valrico, Fla.) batted .500 on the day with a 1-for-2 performance.
Schwarz turned in a .500 batting clip on the week behind Tofft, going 6-for-12 with two homers and seven RBI. Florida used six doubles, a triple and seven homers in the sweep against the Lancers, connecting for 30 hits, while limiting Longwood to 11. The Gators knocked in 20 RBI to the Lancers’ five.
Florida scattered one run each in the first and second innings in the series finale against the Lancers and a Tofft two-run blast in the fifth made it 4-0 before Florida poured on four more runs on five hits in the bottom of the sixth to enforce the mercy rule for the 14th time this season. UF’s shutout against Longwood marked its 16th of the 2013 campaign.
A Horton sac fly in the first counted as UF’s first-inning run, while a Schwarz leadoff solo shot – her seventh of the year – plated Florida’s second-inning score for the 2-0 lead. Tofft then connected for her sixth bomb of the year, a two-run success in the bottom of the fifth to take the Orange and Blue up, 4-0.
After two bunt singles for Merritt, the centerfielder brought Castro home for the Gators’ first score in the sixth after Castro led off with a double to left field and moved to third on a Stewart sac bunt before crossing for the 5-0 Gator advantage. Next up, a Damico two-out single put two runners in scoring position after the speedster took second on the play, while Merritt moved to third, setting up a bases-clearing double for Tofft and increasing UF’s lead, 7-0.
Schwarz then nailed a sharply hit ball to shortstop to score Tofft for the Gators’ eighth and final run of the contest for the series sweep. Lancers starter Libby Morris (14-7) shouldered the loss for LU, while UF faced three different Longwood hurlers in the series finale.
UF will now complete the 2013 regular-season schedule with Georgia at home (4/26-28) before its conference finale at South Carolina (5/3-5/5). All three Georgia contests will air on television, with SunSports/FS Florida covering Friday, ESPNU Saturday and CSS Sunday. UF will then head back to Lexington, Ky., for the 2013 SEC Tournament May 8-11, hosted this year by Kentucky. The complete 2013 SEC Tournament will once again air on ESPNU, with the Championship Game slated to be broadcast on ESPN2.
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