Sunday May 19, 2013No. 2 Florida Softball Blanks USF, 2-0, Advances to Play UAB in NCAA Tournament Super Regionals
Florida softball junior ace Hannah Rogers (Lake Wales, Fla.) tossed a three-hit shutout and the No. 2 Gator softball squad (55-7) used a 2-0 victory over No. 22 USF in the Gainesville Regional Championship to advance to its sixth Super Regional in program history, all under Florida head coach Tim Walton.
Rogers improved to 31-5 in the circle for the Gators (7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K), maintaining a clean slate in the earned runs category through regional play as the No. 2 national seed Gators gave up just two unearned runs throughout the weekend. The Gators’ ace added her 10th shutout with Sunday’s win, UF’s 19th of the season.
The Orange and Blue advance to, and will host, next weekend’s Super Regional round, with times, dates and broadcast information TBA. The Gators will play host to UAB, which emerged victorious out of the Louisville Regional Sunday evening with a 3-2 walk-off victory in 13 innings. The Blazers used a Whitney Fletcher walk-off RBI triple in the bottom of the 13th to advance to Super Regionals for the first time in program history. Stay posted to www.GatorZone.com/softball for all updated information regarding Super Regionals.
Rogers earned two wins in the circle throughout the Gainesville Regional and gave up just four hits, both against USF after also tossing a one-hitter Saturday against the Bulls, while sophomore righty Alyssa Bache (Clearwater, Fla.) handled business Friday against Hampton for her first career postseason victory. Bache worked a two-hitter against the Lady Pirates to improve to 9-0 on the season.
Offensively, sophomore Lauren Haeger (Peoria, Ariz.) and freshman Taylore Fuller (Trenton, Fla.) both batted above .500 through regionals for the Orange and Blue, Haeger with a .571 clip (4-for-7) and Fuller with a .500 batting average (3-for-6). Haeger and Fuller combined for 12 of UF’s 19 RBI, three of Florida’s four homers and two of the Gators’ three doubles on the weekend. Senior Kelsey Horton (Valrico, Fla.) went 4-for-9 (.444) with a double, homer and three RBI herself.
A bases-loaded walk, followed by a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch courtesy of USF ace Sara Nevins in the top of the fourth proved to be the difference in Sunday’s Gainesville Regional Championship, as Nevins and Rogers worked in the circle for their teams, Nevins giving up just one hit to Gator freshman leadoff and second baseman Kelsey Stewart (Wichita, Kan.) in the top of the seventh.
Rogers sat the Bulls down in order in the first, second, third and sixth innings to retire the first nine batters, yielding one hit each in the fourth, fifth and sixth for the Bulls, including two infield singles and a Kenshyra Jackson single down the left-field line in the bottom of the seventh.
Despite Stewart’s one hit in the Regional Championship, the Gators were potent on the base paths, taking advantage of six Nevins walks and two hit-by-pitched, including three walks and a HBP in UF’s two-run fourth inning.
Freshman Kirsti Merritt (Lake Panasoffkee, Fla.) drew a leadoff walk and was bunted to second by junior Stephanie Tofft (Lincoln, Calif.), but the Bulls then opted to intentionally walk sophomore designated player and power hitter Haeger for runners on first and second. Merritt and Haeger both moved into scoring position on a wild pitch before Horton walked to juice the bags for freshman Taylor Schwarz’s (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) RBI walk – the game-winning RBI, her second of the weekend, for the 1-0 lead.
After a fielder’s choice eliminated Haeger at the plate, the bases still loaded with Horton on third, Schwarz on second and sophomore Jess Damico (Gray Summit, Mo.) on first, Nevins dished out her first hit-by-pitch to Fuller, plating Florida’s second and final run.
Nevins (6.1 IP, 1 H, 2 ER, 6 BB, 6 K) finished her junior season 26-9, while senior Lindsey Richardson tossed 2/3 of an inning in her final game as a Bull, with one strikeout Sunday. USF finished the 2013 campaign 45-16 overall.
The Gators improved to 21-6 (.778) in NCAA Regional play under head coach Tim Walton with Saturday’s victory, making the Orange and Blue 46-29 (.613) all-time in the NCAA Tournament. UF now owns an .800 win percentage against top-25 opponents after two victories over No. 22 USF in regional play (16-4)
Stay posted to www.GatorZone.com/softball in the coming days for ALL information about upcoming Super Regional action, including broadcast information, game times, scores, notes, super regional and NCAA Tournament brackets, ticket information, parking, participating team information, quotes and box scores from all of the action in Gainesville.
Florida Head Coach Tim Walton
“USF had a great season, it’s always a tough game – it was probably exactly how we thought that game was going to go with two quality pitchers going at each other. Both two good teams, two good young teams. I thought that was a really good game. Obviously, I am very proud of my players. I am proud of my young players, my old players and my returning players. I just am really happy for our whole program to be able to continue to play well, continue to play the game the right way, do good things, and take care of each other. These ladies up here, obviously instrumental to our win today. Hannah (Rogers) was awesome today. In the circle and defensively, we did a really nice job. Sara (Nevins) was really, really good. She was as tough as she has been on us in a couple of years. She was throwing some pretty good pitches and they made some nice plays, as well. Again, I am just really happy for our program being able to continue our season. Fifty-five wins in a season is an enormous amount of wins. I am very proud of everybody involved.”
On Hannah Rogers
“I thought she was really impressive. Hannah and I had a conversation in the dugout yesterday about her being able to throw the ball a little more through the zone. I felt like she was trying to miss bats yesterday, more so than she was today. She was coming out and really throwing the ball, I don’t want to say harder, but it had a little more late break to it. Again, that’s not me trying to take credit for it – I thought she put emphasis on throwing the ball through the zone as opposed getting the ball to break so much and miss bats. That’s one thing I was taught a long time ago as a pitcher. You just have to go out there sometimes and allow the hitters to hit your pitch. If they do a god job, give them the credit. You just can’t go out there and miss bats and trick everybody all the time.”
On returning to the Super Regionals
“This is a huge accomplishment. This is going to down as one of the best jobs this team has done. With so many question marks coming into the season, so many new starters, this is one of the most gratifying feelings that I have had in a long time. To have a team so young, a team that has so much fun, a team that still goes about it the right way and does it the way I want it done. They still have fun. They play loose. They are clutch, athletic. They just do so many nice things. For that, I give them the credit. Our coaching staff, we have always worked hard, but we really made an adjustment with our philosophy on our program just trying to focus on the Gators and not worry about too many things about the opponents. I think they are buying into that pretty well.”
Florida Junior Pitcher Hannah Rogers
On today’s tight game
“You just have to go out there and keep competing because if you get down for one second; it’s only a two-run game and they could come back at any moment. It really keeps our energy level up high throughout the game.”
On not giving any walks
“I was trying to make better pitches, trying to keep them off-balance and just let my defense work for me today.”
On being back in the Super Regionals
“It’s exciting because we get to go out there and play for the fans and for ourselves. It’s amazing just to continue to go out there and have fun and be there for each other.”
Florida Freshman Second Baseman Kelsey Stewart
On getting Florida’s only hit today in the 7th inning
“It was really nice. Hitting is a mental game so having hits is a big thing for us. Just staying mentally tough and just fighting – sooner or later the ball is going to fall, so it was really nice.”
On fourth inning’s bases loaded moment
“Anytime you get bases loaded it’s a ‘we have to do something here’ moment; it’s important to score.”
On Sarah Nevins performance today and what was different than yesterday
“I really think that the umpire today was giving more of her corners, which then made her more confident in her pitches.”