Saturday March 22, 2014Florida Defeats Alabama, 7-1, to Even Series
Bailey Castro's grand slam powered the Gators to a 7-1 win Saturday.
The No. 1/2 University of Florida Softball team defeated No. 9/7 Alabama, 7-1, on Saturday (March 22) at Katie Seashole Pressly Softball Stadium. The Gators’ victory evened the teams’ weekend series at a game apiece. Senior Hannah Rogers (Lake Wales, Fla.) improved to 13-2 on the season, allowing one earned run on five hits over seven innings with no walks and two strikeouts, as Florida (30-3, 5-3 SEC) handed Alabama (26-5, 7-1 SEC) its first loss in conference play.
Alabama had a base hit in each of the first two innings, but Rogers stranded the runners both times. Florida got on the board in the second inning when junior Lauren Haeger (Peoria, Ariz.) walked and then advanced all the way home on three illegal pitches. Sophomore Taylor Schwarz (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) gave the Gators another run in the inning with a solo home run to center field to make the score 2-0.
The Crimson Tide cut the Florida lead to one with a solo home run in the fourth. The Orange and Blue got a hit from Chelsea Herndon (Carrollton, Texas) in the bottom of the frame, but she was stranded at first. Rogers allowed a leadoff single in the fifth but got three straight outs to keep the score 2-1.
Florida scored five runs in the fifth to increase its lead to six. The big inning began when Justine McLean (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) singled to shortstop and then stole a base. That set up a run-scoring base hit by Kirsti Merritt (Lake Panasoffkee, Fla.) to plate the freshman from second. Following a walk to Stephanie Tofft (Lincoln, Calif.) and a hit-by-pitch against Haeger, junior Bailey Castro (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) belted a grand slam over the scoreboard in left-center to push the Gator lead to 7-1.
The Gators got two baserunners in the sixth, and Rogers retired Alabama in order in the final two innings to seal the 7-1 win.
· The Gators are 3-0 this season following a loss; the combined score in those three wins is 27-6.
· Schwarz’ second-inning home run was her fifth of the season, pulling into a tie with Tofft and Taylore Fuller (Trenton, Fla.) for second on the team (Haeger, 10).
· Haeger scored the game’s first run without the benefit of a hit; the junior walked to start the inning then advanced home on two illegal pitches to Castro and one to Schwarz before her home run.
· Castro’s grand slam was the Gators’ fourth of the season, following slams by Tofft on Feb. 15 vs. Ohio State, Haeger on March 1 against the Buckeyes and Fuller on March 14 at LSU.
· The junior’s four RBI marked a season high for her.
· Herndon extended her career-best hitting streak to five games with a fourth-inning single. The freshman is batting .313 (5x16) with two runs scored, one double, one triple and one RBI.
· McLean (2x3, R), logged her seventh multi-hit game of the season, taking sole possession of second place on the team (Stewart, 13).
· Stewart extended her reached-base streak to 33 games; the sophomore has been on base in every UF game this season. The longest reached-base streak in UF history (within a single season) is 37 games by Michelle Moultrie in 2011.
· Rogers did not walk a batter for the fourth start (fifth outing overall) this season; the senior has allowed 1.43 walks per 7.0 innings this season, which is the lowest ratio of the Gators’ four pitchers.
Head Coach Tim Walton
On scoring first to put pressure on Alabama:
“Alabama is a really good team. You’ve got to be able to keep them at bay. For us to be able to get on the board early was huge. Taylor Schwarz hit a big home run, and I thought that was key.”
On Castro’s grand slam:
“I really talked to her going into the season about hitting more home runs. I think she’s got the capability to do a lot more than she’s been doing, but I also told her that I wanted her to hit more home runs and strike out less. With that maybe comes a few more singles, because I think we’ve cut down some things, but I’ve given her the green light to hit a home run anytime she wants. I think she understands that. For her, it’s about just being able to keep working. I’m certainly going to allow her to enjoy this moment, but we’re going to go back to work and keep doing the things we’re doing, because I don’t want her to become complacent. I want her to ride this confidence.”
On Rogers pitching the Gators to a win after Friday’s loss:
“She did a good job. When you look at it, she really only made two bad pitches. Everything else was just singles. Their hitters, give them credit. They were doing a good job with two strikes, pulling the ball, going the other way, fighting. I’m really happy for Hannah. We needed that W right there. There’s something to be said about not losing two games in a row. We’ve got to continue to bounce back, no matter what happens the night before, and be ready to play.”
On what the Gators need to do on Sunday to win the series:
“For us, it’s just coming out with whoever we pitch tomorrow and giving our offense a chance. I like when our pitching staff is dialed in, because it’s like having another hitter in your lineup. You can always depend on them. It gives you a lot of confidence. We need to play with that tomorrow.”
Senior RHP Hannah Rogers
On what worked well today for her:
“(I was) hitting really good spots, making the batters fight up there and using my defense early. They did a good job today, the defense.”
On locating her pitches:
“I just try and keep them off balance, go out and jam them in or start inside and go out. Go down, go outside, go low. Just mix it all in.”
On her reaction to Castro’s grand slam:
“It was awesome. It’s always a good feeling. It gives you energy and gives the team energy. It just allows you to want to go out there and pitch.”
Junior OF/DP Bailey Castro
On her grand slam:
“I’ve just really been working on my approach at the plate, trying to take it one pitch at a time with every pitch. It was a good pitch, and it was a good swing. It just worked out in my favor.”
On if she knew it was a home run off the bat:
“I had a feeling, but I wanted to watch it to make sure.”
On the significance of the win:
“I think it just says a lot about the character of this team, that we have the ability to bounce back after a loss. I feel like it was good team win today.”
FOLLOW THE GATORS
The series against Alabama concludes Sunday at 1 p.m. ET. The game will air live on Sun Sports, with Larry Vettel and former Gator All-American Megan Bush on the call. Radio coverage will be available on GatorZone.com with Mike Gillespie handling play-by-play. Fans also can follow the action on Gametracker, which is available on the schedule page on GatorZone.com.
The weekend also features the Join 1,600 promotion, presented by JoAnn Fabric and Crafts Stores. For each game that draws at least 1,600 fans, everyone in attendance will go home with a 50 percent off coupon for one item at JoAnn Fabrics and Crafts Store.