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Florida earned a pair of wins Saturday at the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic to improve to 19-0 on the season.

Saturday March 1, 2014No. 1 Gators Beat Fordham, Ohio State in Saturday Sweep

Kissimmee, Fla.

Florida earned a pair of wins Saturday at the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic to improve to 19-0 on the season.

BOX SCORE—Game 1 (Fordham)

BOX SCORE—Game 2 (Ohio State)

 

The No. 1 Gator Softball team (19-0) earned a pair of wins Saturday at the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic, defeating Fordham 9-2 and Ohio State 9-1 (6 innings) at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

 

In the opener against the Rams, freshman Delanie Gourley (Lakeside, Calif.) pitched a complete game to improve to 6-0 on the season. The lefty allowed two runs (one earned) on six hits over seven innings with one walk and eight strikeouts. Sophomore outfielder Kirsti Merritt (Lake Panasoffkee, Fla.) provided an offensive spark for the Gators with a pair of two-run home runs, and junior Lauren Haeger (Peoria, Ariz.) slugged a solo shot. The Orange and Blue tallied four extra-base hits in the game, as sophomore second baseman Kelsey Stewart (Wichita, Kan.) added a triple.

 

Florida started quickly out of the gate when Stewart hit a leadoff single. She went first-to-third on Merritt’s sacrifice, then scored on Haeger’s RBI single to left. The Gators tacked on two more runs in the second inning, with Merritt’s first home run plating Stewart.

 

Freshman Justine McLean (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) started a three-run fourth inning with a walk, and then scored on Stewart’s triple. That set the table again for Merritt, who delivered another home run to put the Gators ahead 6-0. Fordham got two runs back in the bottom of the frame on three singles and a Florida fielding error.

 

The Gators iced the win in the seventh. Haeger homered to lead off the frame before outfielder Jessica Damico (Gray Summit, Mo.) walked after entering the game in the fifth as a pinch-runner. Third baseman Stephanie Tofft (Lincoln, Calif.) then homered to right to bring in two runs and produce the final margin in Florida’s 9-2 win.  

 

UF earned its second mercy-rule victory of the season against Ohio State in the second game. Stewart scored the game’s first run in the opening frame when junior Bailey Castro (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. The Buckeyes tied the game a 1 on an RBI triple in the second, but Haeger gave the Gators the lead again in the third with a solo home run.

 

The Orange and Blue extended their lead in the fifth with six runs. Stewart hit an RBI single before Haeger added a grand slam. Tofft singled later in the frame to score Castro, and Stewart sealed the victory in the sixth with a base hit that plated Munro to give the Gators a 9-1 lead, ending the game via mercy rule.

 

 

NOTABLES

·         The Gators won their two contests against Ohio State by a combined score of 28-3 (also: 19-2 on Feb. 15).

·         Haeger’s three home runs on the day raised her season total to nine, and her seven RBI brought her to 26 on the year; she leads the team in both categories.

 

WALTON’S WORDS

On Haeger’s production offensively:

“I think she did a good job. Today, she didn’t have any bad swings. She put quality swings on pitches all day today in all of her at-bats. I don’t think she got herself out maybe but one time.”

 

On the depth of the pitching staff:

“I think it’s good. They’re all throwing the ball well. As well as they’re throwing the ball, if they can hit their spots, change speeds, change locations and use the defense, they’re going to be tough to beat, especially when you start playing single games in a day. There are some potential matchups here that I’m really looking forward to, watching them all continue to compete with each other.”

 

On what the Gators have to do Sunday to beat Maryland and Radford:

“[We need to do] the same stuff. I talked to our players about competing—competing for situations, competing for innings and taking advantage of opportunities—whether it be runners on first and third, runners on second and third, bases loaded, finding ways move runners up, finding ways to score runners. That’s the overall goal for our team is to be really good in situations. We can’t get caught up in who we’re playing. We’ve just got to find a way to win. 

 

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UP NEXT

The Gators will wrap up play in the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic on Sunday, when they face Maryland (10 a.m. EST) and Radford (noon EST). Radio coverage will be available on GatorZone.com and accessible to fans on the team’s schedule page. Mike Gillespie and former Gator All-American Megan Bush will have the call.  

 

-UF-

 

 

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