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Taylore Fuller's seventh-inning grand slam gave the Gators a 6-5 lead.

Saturday March 15, 2014Fuller's Slam Powers Gators to Extra-Innings Road Win Over LSU

Gainesville, Fla.

Taylore Fuller's seventh-inning grand slam gave the Gators a 6-5 lead.

BOX SCORE

 

Gator Softball won its first SEC road game in thrilling fashion Friday (March 14), defeating No. 25 LSU 7-6 (8 innings) at Tiger Park. A grand slam from Taylore Fuller (Trenton, Fla.) gave the Gators their first lead in the seventh inning as No. 1 Florida (27-1, 3-1 SEC) scored six runs in the final three frames to come back from a 5-1 deficit. Senior Hannah Rogers (Lake Wales, Fla.) pitched the last two frames to improve to 11-1 on the year.

 

Florida’s offense started quickly as sophomore Kelsey Stewart (Wichita, Kan.) was hit by a pitch to lead off the game. Stewart then stole second and came home with the game’s first run on an RBI double by Stephanie Tofft (Lincoln, Calif.). The Tigers loaded the bases against freshman Delanie Gourley (Lakeside, Calif.) in the bottom of the first, but the lefty induced a flyout to end the threat.

 

LSU tied the game at one run apiece with a leadoff double and an RBI single in the second. The Tigers then took the lead in the third with a leadoff single and a two-run home run that made the score 3-1. A walk and a single after the home run chased Gourley, who was lifted for Lauren Haeger (Peoria, Ariz.). The junior promptly retired three straight batters to end the inning.

 

Both teams were scoreless in the fourth before LSU extended its lead to 5-1 with two solo home runs in the fifth. UF got one run back in the sixth when freshman Chelsea Herndon (Carrollton, Texas) was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.

 

The Gators loaded the bases in the seventh when Tofft walked and Kirsti Merritt (Lake Panasoffkee, Fla.) and Justine McLean (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) singled. After entering the game as a pinch-hitter in the fourth, Fuller put the Gators ahead 6-5 with a two-out grand slam to left.  LSU sent the game to extra innings against Rogers, who came in to relieve Haeger, when a run scored in the bottom of the inning on a bases-loaded fielder’s choice.

 

In the eighth, the Gators loaded the bases on a walk by Haeger and hit-by-pitches by Merritt and Briana Little (Middleburg, Fla.), and scored what proved to be the winning run when McLean drew another free pass. Rogers set the Tigers down in order in the bottom of the frame to give the Gators the hard-fought win in extra innings.

 

 

NOTABLES

·         Fuller’s grand slam was her fourth home run of the season, tying her with Tofft for second on the team (Haeger, 9).

·         Stewart extended her hitting streak to 11 games, which is the longest active streak on the team and the second-longest of the year (Haeger, 12).

·         Stewart reached base for the 28th consecutive game to begin the season.

·         Herndon drew a career-high three walks. She also was hit by a pitch, giving her just one official at-bat in five plate appearances.

·         As a team, the Gators drew 11 walks and were hit by five pitches. This is the fourth time—and second game in a row—that UF drew double-digit walks in a game; the five HBPs matched a season high (also: Feb. 6 at USF). 

·         LSU’s nine hits are the most allowed by the Gators this season (previous: 8, Feb. 8 vs. Michigan).

·         Gourley had her scoreless streak snapped at 28.0 innings when LSU plated a run in the second.  

·         LSU’s third-inning home run was just the second home run allowed by Gourley, and the first since Feb. 8.

·         Gourley worked 2.0+ innings before Haeger came in, marking the lefty’s shortest career start (previous: 4.0 IP, twice; last: Feb. 16 vs. Minnesota).

·         Haeger allowed two home runs in the fifth inning after giving up just one home run in 45.2 innings pitched entering Friday.

 

WALTON’S WORDS

Head Coach Tim Walton

On how this win demonstrates the team’s resilience:

“It says everything about the way we compete. This team has a ‘never say die’ attitude, and I feel like we’ve developed that in our program. We’ve had a lot of wins with our back against the wall. If there’s an out, we still have an opportunity to win the game. Taylore Fuller tonight delivered a huge, huge hit—the biggest hit of her career. That’s what makes it fun, is when you get players like that who go out there and make big-time plays in big-time situations.”

 

On Haeger’s ability to pitch well enough out of the bullpen to give the Gators a chance to win:

“She held them—other than the home runs—she kept the game manageable for us. That’s why I went to Lauren, was to keep it close enough for us to find a way to chip away and get one run at a time. I told her that after the game, ‘You did a good job. Maybe you didn’t pitch your best, but you did help us get to a point where we could win the ballgame.”

 

On what the Gators have to do Saturday in Game 2 of the series:

“That’s one thing we’ll talk about tomorrow with the team. Last weekend, we lost the first game and came back and won the series. We’ve got to come out and be ready to play. I thought LSU had a really good game plan coming into the game—swinging the bat the way they did, and the pitching staff did a good job. We’ve got to continue to play good defense, but we’ve got to find a way to get hits with runners in scoring position.” 

 

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UP NEXT

The LSU series continues Saturday with Game 2 scheduled for 8 p.m. ET. CST will carry the game on television, and radio coverage will be available on WGGG (1230 AM) with Mike Gillespie and former Gator All-American Megan Bush on the call. Live stats can be found here after the first pitch.  

 

-UF-

 

 

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