Saturday May 25, 2013Gator Softball Walks Off, 4-3, Against UAB in NCAA Super Regional Opener
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In a back-and-forth battle in the NCAA Softball Gainesville Super Regional opener, the No. 2 Gators (56-7) used a sophomore Katie Medina (Downey, Calif.) walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the seventh for the win, as Florida took a 4-3 decision over UAB (40-18) in front of 1,691 at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium to inch one game closer to its fifth Women’s College World Series appearance.
The Gators entered the bottom of the seventh down, 3-2, and rallied as they’ve done all season, first taking advantage of two straight walks and a hit by pitch to load the bases before sophomore Briana Little (Middleburg, Fla.) was pegged with a relief pitcher Leigh Streetman offering for the equalizer, 3-3. Following a Gator strikeout for one down, Medina dropped a 0-1 Streetman offering in shallow left field over the UAB shortstop’s head to plate the game-winning run in walk-off fashion, UF’s sixth walk off of 2013.
For Medina, the clutch hit was her first game-winner for the Gators this season, joining 11 other teammates who have clinched a victory for the Orange and Blue in 2013 by knocking in the game-winning RBI.
The Gators and Blazers will meet again at noon Sunday on ESPN, with Jeanne Zelasko and Cheri Kempf on the call, as Florida will look to clinch its fifth Super Regional for the right to head to Oklahoma City for what would be the fifth time in the last six years. The ‘if necessary’game is scheduled for 3 p.m. should UAB even the series at noon.
GAINESVILLE SUPER REGIONAL SUNDAY BROADCAST INFORMATION
TV | VIDEO
5/26 (if nec.)
Florida’s come-back-win Saturday marked its 21st come from behind, after Florida trailed heading into the bottom of both the fifth and seventh innings. The Gators took advantage of six walks and four hit by pitches, while freshman second baseman Kelsey Stewart (Wichita, Kan.) swiped two bags for 36 on the year to improve her single-season school record. Little’s RBI hit by pitch in the bottom of the seventh extended her single-season HBP record to 19.
Junior ace Hannah Rogers (Lake Wales, Fla.) got it done in the circle for the Gators Saturday (7.0 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 4 K) to improve to 32-5. Rogers started the game with a strikeout and retired the Blazers in order in the third and fourth innings en route to her 96th career victory at Florida.
After a scoreless first frame for both squads, UAB jumped out to a 1-0 lead on an unearned run in the top of the second after an uncharacteristic Gator error that allowed the Blazers’ leadoff runner to scamper home for the 1-0 advantage. Florida evened things up, though, in the bottom of the third on a junior Stephanie Tofft (Lincoln, Calif.) RBI single that plated Stewart from second for a 1-1 ballgame.
A feisty Blazers squad used a Whitney Fletcher RBI single to right field in the top of the fifth to capitalize on two straight two-out hits for UAB, as Fletcher’s base hit put the Blazers ahead for the second time Saturday, this time 2-1.
Again, Florida battled back, evening things in the home half of the fifth stanza, courtesy of a senior Kelsey Horton (Valrico, Fla.) bases-loaded hit by pitch. A Gator two-out rally juiced the bags after a freshman Kirsti Merritt (Lake Panasoffkee, Fla.) hit by pitch, followed by Tofft’s second hit of the day and sophomore Lauren Haeger’s (Peoria, Ariz.) infield single. Horton plated Merritt for a 2-2 game, but a groundout next retired the side before UF could take advantage of the situation.
The Gators put the pressure on again in the bottom of the sixth after a leadoff walk from Little, followed by a freshman Taylore Fuller (Trenton, Fla.) single through the left side as Florida chased starter Lannah Campbell (5.0 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 8 K) from the circle in favor of Streetman. Sophomore pinch hitter Bailey Castro (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) walked to load the bases, but Streetman was effective with a fielder’s choice to eliminate UF’s lead runner, followed by two of her three strikeouts on the afternoon to halt the threat.
UAB then worked to regain the lead in the top of the seventh after a two-out rally of its own when Kristen McGrath sent a ball over Medina at shortstop with runners on first and second for the 3-2 Blazers lead. UF didn’t buckle under the pressure in the final half inning of regulation, instead the Gators buckled down, milking Streetman for four straight free passes in the bottom of the seventh in form of two walks, and two HBP to tie the game before Medina’s one-out walk-off heroics for the 4-3 Florida win.
Streetman (1.1 IP, 1 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 3 K) earned the decision in the circle for the Blazers, moving to 13-8 on the season. Six different Gator bats came alive Saturday, paced by Tofft’s 2-for-4 performance. Likewise, six different Blazers found the hits column.
Gator fans unable to attend this Sunday’s Super Regional action at UF’s Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium can tune in live locally or online to Adam Schick and Megan Bush with the call on 105 The Game (104.9 WYGC-FM). Sunday’s contests will stream live on WatchESPN.com, while stats will be available through Gametracker.
Stay posted to www.GatorZone.com/softball in the coming days for all information and highlights surrounding Super Regional action, 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.
· The Orange and Blue now own a 47-29 (.618) all-time record in the NCAA Tournament, including a 42-19 (.689) record under eighth year head coach Tim Walton
· The Gators are looking for their fifth-ever Women’s College World Series berth, which would mark Florida’s fifth in the last six years
· UF is now 10-2 (.833) all-time in Super Regional play
· The Gators are undefeated at home in Super Regional action: 9-0
· UF has made four WCWS appearances, including an unprecedented four straight from 2008-11, having played for the national championship in 2009 (Washington) and 2011 (Arizona State)
· Florida is now 32-5 (.865) versus the original 2013 Tourney Field (64) and played 15 NCAA Tourney teams in the regular season
· Florida is now 11-3 (.786) this season against teams in Supers
· Florida is ranked No. 2 in the country, has 21 come-from-behind wins this season and the Gators are 5-2 in extra innings, 16-4 (.800) against top-25 opponents. The Orange and Blue own 15 run-rules and 19 shutouts this season, 10 of them belonging to Rogers
· UF has now been a top five national seed in the NCAA Tournament each of the past six years, three as a top-three seed
· The Gators have had just three errors in their last 12 outings
· Notably, Haeger is just four home runs away from the school record (22), along with 10 RBI away from the Gators’ single-season record (80)
· Rogers owns 96 career wins at Florida in the circle and would be the second pitcher in Gator history to hit the 100-win mark
Florida Head Coach Tim Walton
“First, I have to give a lot of credit to UAB. They are a good ball club. It was a really tough game, a lot of even stuff going on, on both sides of the diamond. They were very well prepared. When I look up on the board, I see a lot of similarities between their team and our team. I give them credit for taking advantage of every opportunity we gave them in some situations and opportunities that they gave themselves. Great pitching by both of their pitchers. On defense, their shortstop made some really nice plays. Give our fans a lot of credit. I’ve said it a long time, the fans that we have – they come out and support us very well. Very proud of that, very proud of what we have built; we couldn’t have done it without them. I know that for sure. I am very proud of that and the energy that they brought for us –bring it back again for tomorrow please. I have to give our team credit. I thought they had some good at bats. I thought we hit the ball hard. Obviously, in a bases-loaded situation you’d like to see them squeeze some runs across in the sixth, but it probably wouldn’t have been as good for ratings and television audience if we did. Give our kids credit. It’s easy to fold a tent right there when you’re down by one. Katie (Medina) just missed catching that little line drive. Give our kids credit, they are tough. They don’t want to lose and I am very proud of them.”
On the bases-loaded situations:
“How many times have you seen me squeeze with the bases loaded? That tells you what is going through my head. I’ve been there, done that in those kinds of games and I am not going to sit there and sit on my hands when I have a couple of hitters and a decent runner that can do some stuff. I was trying to take the bat not of Kristit’s (Merritt) hands, but put it (and her) in a position where she would be successful. I kick myself actually because I had another squeeze situation and I missed it. I didn’t miss it, I should have called it. It was hard to call because of the pitch count. I missed another one I should have done.”
Florida Sophomore Shortstop Katie Medina
On her game-winning hit:
“I just went up there looking for a pitch to drive. The pitchers from the other teams were throwing an outstanding game. I just went up there confident and tried to do my job for the team.”
On if she thought the shortstop was going to catch it:
“As soon as I hit it I looked at the ball and I saw it was just over the shortstop, so I knew.”
On her confidence at the plate:
“As I was getting into the box I knew that my team was behind me and their support gives me the confidence I need to look for that pitch and drive it.”
Florida Junior Pitcher Hannah Rogers
On her performance:
“I think just getting through the lineup once helped me a lot, just being able to read the batters’ swings, trusting (Pitching coach Jennifer) Rocha’s calls, letting my defense work, and our offense being able to score runs whenever we needed to. That was huge for us.”
On coming back in the seventh inning:
“I just stayed confident and knew that my team was behind me. I have to make sure I am picking our defense up. If there is an error, I always tell my team to just keep smiling as long you are getting outs we are going to come back and score.”