Wednesday March 12, 2014Gators Walk Off Twice to Sweep Mercer in Midweek Doubleheader
Briana Little went 2-for-5 with two runs scored in the Gators' doubleheader sweep of Mercer.
Gator Softball earned two walkoff wins Wednesday in a doubleheader sweep of Mercer. Florida (26-1) took the first game 8-0 (5 innings) and won the second contest 1-0. Senior Hannah Rogers (Lake Wales, Fla.) improved to 10-1 with a shutout in the opener, and freshman Delanie Gourley (Lakeside, Calif.) earned the win in the second game to run her record to 10-0 on the year.
The Orange and Blue got things started in Game 1 when Briana Little (Middleburg, Fla.) singled in the second, stole second base and stole home two batters later on a double-steal. Florida added two more runs in the third inning on a two-run single by Kirsti Merritt (Lake Panasoffkee, Fla.) that brought in Lauren Haeger (Peoria, Ariz.) and Stephanie Tofft (Lincoln, Calif.).
Taylor Schwarz (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) led off the fourth with an infield single, and came home on an RBI single by Kelsey Stewart (Wichita, Kan.) to make the score 4-0. In the fifth, Chelsea Herndon (Carrollton, Texas) hit a ground-rule double to right-center to start the inning for Florida, setting the table for Tofft to drive in Herndon on a run-scoring base hit. Francesca Martinez (Centreville, Va.) entered the game as a pinch-runner for Haeger, and UF added another run in the frame when Martinez scored as Tofft was caught stealing. A bases-loaded infield single by Justine McLean (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) made it 7-0, and the Gators won the game on a walkoff walk by Stewart.
After the mercy-rule victory in Game 1, the nightcap was a pitchers’ duel. Gourley and Mercer’s Julia Rice both fired blanks for six innings before the Gators broke through with a run in the seventh.
The Gator lefty battled throughout the game, stranding runners in four of the seven innings. Gourley got a heads-up play from her defense in the first inning when Stewart alertly threw home to erase Mercer’s leadoff hitter, who had singled and advanced to third on another base hit. The key decision by her shortstop allowed Gourley to keep the game at a scoreless tie until Florida’s seventh-inning heroics won the contest.
After Herndon led off the bottom of the seventh with a triple to right, Mercer intentionally walked Haeger and Tofft to load the bases for Merritt. The sophomore drew a walk of her own to give the Gators their second walkoff victory of the day.
· Both games ended on a walkoff walk.
· The Gators stole five bases in Game 1, marking their third game this season with five or more steals (7, March 2 vs. Radford; 6, Feb. 16 vs. Minnesota).
· Little (2x3, 2 R) recorded her first multi-hit game of the season in the opener.
· Stewart (1x3, BB, 2 RBI) posted her ninth multi-RBI game of 2014 in the first game, pulling into a tie with Haeger and Tofft for the team lead.
· Gourley ran her scoreless streak to 27 innings with a shutout in Game 2.
· Haeger had her hitting streak snapped at 12 games after she went hitless in Game 2.
Head Coach Tim Walton
On Herndon’s leadoff triple that led to the only run of Game 2:
“She put a good swing on it. She had good swings all day long. She put a charge into a ball early in the game into right-center. The reason she’s playing is that she’s making things happen. She’s been fun to watch. [I’ve] got her a lot more at-bats at the top of the lineup, and she’s been doing a good job.”
On the performance from Rogers and Gourley today:
“[They were] good. Delanie got her strikeouts when she needed to, and showed poised [by] making some good pitches, and Hannah did the same thing. We had some opportunities in the first game to let our guard down and give up runs, and Hannah stepped up and made her pitches. Delanie did the same thing in the second [game]. She was throwing her rise ball pretty well and getting good strikes early in the count. I thought they both pitched really well today.”
On facing an LSU team that many Florida players haven’t seen:
“I don’t know if we really care about who we’ve seen or what we’ve seen. We know we’re going to LSU—it’s a tough place to play. It’s a great team. It will be a crazy environment—we’ve played some great ballgames there. They’ve got a tradition-rich program. It’s going to be tough, no matter if our players have seen them or not seen them. They’re a good team, and they’ve beaten some really good teams this year. It’s going to be tough for us on the road. They’re going to be ready to go.”
Freshman LHP Delanie Gourley
On her performance in Game 2:
“I think I did pretty well tonight. There’s always stuff to work on—little adjustments here and there, but overall I did pretty well.”
On if she felt pressure to get outs since the offense didn’t score for the first six innings:
“I always try to shut out the other team, every inning and every pitch. I knew all game that my team was going to have my back sometime in the game. I wasn’t worried. Even if it is the bottom of the seventh on a walk; if that’s what it takes to win, that’s fine.”
On how her fielding is improving:
“It’s improving a lot. We’ve been working on it a lot at practice. They’ve been trying to get a lot of balls past me, and I’ve been doing my best to stop them. I think it showed in the game.”
Freshman UT Chelsea Herndon
On her triple in the seventh inning of Game 2 that led to the winning run:
“I really wasn’t trying to hit a home run or anything. I was just trying to get on base [and] start the team. Lauren was coming up next. I was just trying to get on base and get the energy going.”
On getting more playing time and starting more regularly:
“It feels great. I’m working hard, giving it all I’ve got. I’m taking every opportunity that I can.”
On playing in the infield today after playing more in the outfield in previous games:
“It moves much quicker in the infield. In the outfield, you have time. There are more pop flies in the outfield. I’m just learning to adjust. I’m willing to go wherever the team needs me.”
FOLLOW THE GATORS
The Gators will travel to Baton Rouge, La., this weekend for their first SEC road series, a three-game set against LSU. Friday’s game is set for 7 p.m. (all times Eastern), followed by an 8 p.m. start on Saturday and a 1 p.m. first pitch on Sunday. GatorVision will have live video of Friday’s game for subscribers; CST will carry the contests on Saturday and Sunday. Radio coverage will be available on WGGG (1230 AM), with Mike Gillespie and former Gator All-American Megan Bush on the call.