Friday May 17, 2013Gator Hurler Alyssa Bache Goes the Distance as Softball Tops Hampton, 7-1, to Open NCAA Play
Florida sophomore righty Alyssa Bache (Clearwater, Fla.) worked a complete game, giving up just two Hampton (34-25) hits as the No. 2 seed Gator softball squad (53-7) downed the Lady Pirates, 7-1, to open NCAA Tournament play Friday evening in front of a crowd of 1,422 in Gainesville.
In her first postseason start, Bache carried a no-hitter through four innings to improve to 9-0 on the season, adding her first postseason victory to a season resume that includes top-25 wins over Kentucky and FSU. Bache fanned four Lady Pirates and walked just one through her seventh complete-game effort of the year.
The Gators advance to play game-one winner USF in tomorrow’s 1 p.m. game. Hampton and Georgia Southern will take to the field at 3:30 p.m. The losing squad in the 1 p.m. contest will face the winner of the 3:30 p.m. contest at 6 p.m. Saturday evening at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium. All games in the 2013 Gainesville Regional will stream live and for free on GatorVision.tv.
Florida and USF will meet for the third time this season, with UF going 2-0 against the Bulls in 2013, including a 3-1 victory in Tampa in February before a 9-1, six-inning run rule in Gainesville April 10. The Gators and Bulls are no strangers to NCAA Tournament play, as USF used a 1-0 win over UF in last year’s regional final to advance out of the Gainesville Regional and eventually on to its first-ever WCWS.
Friday evening, Bache handled a career best four assists in the circle herself, while the Gators’ defense went to work behind her. UF chalked up 11 hits on the evening, with two each from freshman Kirsti Merritt (Lake Panasoffkee, Fla.), junior Stephanie Tofft (Lincoln, Calif.), sophomore Lauren Haeger (Peoria, Ariz.) and senior Kelsey Horton (Valrico, Fla.), Merritt with a perfect 2-for-2 performance with two runs scored.
Florida added its 19th come-from-behind victory of the season after the Lady Pirates jumped out to a 1-0 lead on the Gators following an uncharacteristic UF defensive miscue in the first inning. Hampton’s Margaret Wilkins reached second on the play and was bunted to third before scoring on a Taylor McCoy groundout for the early 1-0 lead.
The Orange and Blue then put up seven unanswered runs, four in the third, two in the fifth and one in the sixth to seal the opening-round victory. Haeger knocked in the game-tying run with a single up the middle before freshman Taylor Schwarz (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) sent a sacrifice fly to right field for the eventual game-winning RBI. Horton then followed with a RBI single to left field and sophomore Briana Little (Middleburg, Fla.) smacked a RBI triple, UF’s 21st three-bagger of the season, to right field for the 4-1 lead after three frames.
Bache maintained a no-hitter through four before Diamond Ponds connected for an infield single in the top of the fifth, but Florida kept Hampton off the board while adding to its tally in the bottom of the stanza thanks to two solo jacks from Horton and freshman Taylore Fuller (Trenton, Fla.). Horton stepped into double-digit homers for UF with her 10th of the season, while Fuller went yard for the third time this year in her first NCAA Tournament appearance.
In the bottom of the sixth, Haeger capped off UF’s scoring by delivering a one-out single up the middle before a fly out and ground out retired UF.
Hampton’s Carla Trimble beat out a two-out infield single in the top of the seventh for the Lady Pirates’ second hit of the evening, but Bache had Shine Huwe ground out to sophomore Katie Medina (Downey, Calif.) at short stop for the final out of the game.
Jailynn Jackson (26-12) was charged the loss in the circle for Hampton (4.2 IP, 8 H, 6 ER, 5 BB, 2 K), as Florida improved to 19-6 (.760) in NCAA Regional play under head coach Tim Walton with Friday’s win, making the Orange and Blue 44-29 (.603) all-time in the NCAA Tournament.
SELECT FLORIDA POSTGAME QUOTES
Florida Head Coach Tim Walton
“First of all, I just want to thank our crowd – we had a really nice crowd tonight for both games, it was really good to see them come out and support us on Friday night. It was just a good W for us, to get on the board early and get that win. I am proud of Alyssa Bache, her first postseason start and to go out there and handle herself. She took a no-hitter into the fourth – she really did a good job. Our offense in the second inning got some runs going. Again, when you have a young team, you don’t know what you’re going to get all the time. You can clearly see from everybody tonight we’re ready to play and everybody is ready to get after it here in the postseason.”
On Bache’s first postseason start
“Sunday night when we saw the selection, I figured it was a good opportunity for her to get some action. I pitched her against Florida State in the middle of the week, so it tells you have I have confidence in her. It was a big game for us on the road. We pitched her against Ole Miss. She’s done a good job. She has nine wins and she had a great W against Syracuse this year. I felt like it was a good matchup for her to get her feet wet. Obviously, when you have a pitching staff of three, it’s tough, but I have confidence in all three of them.”
Florida Sophomore RHP Alyssa Bache
On getting the start tonight
“Coach told me a couple of days ago and I was really excited because it is my first postseason game as a sophomore. I was just excited and ready to play to help my team out any way I could.”
On giving up a run in the first inning
“You just have to be ready for anything. As that unearned run happened I just shook it off and kept going and making them (Hampton) put it into play so my team could make some plays and I could make some plays to get the outs.”
Florida Senior OF Kelsey Horton
On her fifth-inning home run
“I just made some adjustments from my first and second at-bats. I was more aggressive earlier in the count and just hit the first pitch because it was a good one.”
On the team hitting well
“I think we did a really good job getting the momentum going in the third inning and we just battled. We got some lucky hits, some bloopers, some shots and some walks. The first couple of batters did a really good job of leading us off to get us going in that inning.”
On the team hitting better after first time through the order
“I think that is every team. You are going to get better the more times you see a pitcher. You make adjustments as you go through the game so I think we did a good job of doing that tonight.”