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Gator Softball fell to Tennessee Friday night.

Friday March 28, 2014Gators Fall to Tennessee in Series Opener

Knoxville, Tenn.

Gator Softball fell to Tennessee Friday night.

BOX SCORE

 

The fourth-ranked Gator Softball team (31-5, 5-5 SEC) fell to No. 2/3 Tennessee (29-3, 6-1 SEC), 9-2, on Friday night (March 28) in the opening game of the teams’ three-game series at Sherri Parker Lee Stadium. Senior Hannah Rogers (Lake Wales, Fla.) fell to 14-4 on the season after allowing three earned runs on four hits in 3.0 innings, with three walks, three strikeouts and one hit batter.

 

Sophomore Kelsey Stewart (Wichita, Kan.) was hit by a pitch to lead off the game, but was caught stealing before center fielder Kirsti Merritt (Lake Panasoffkee, Fla.) singled up the middle. The sophomore was stranded at first to end the inning, and Rogers left two runners on base in the bottom of the inning to keep the game scoreless.

 

Florida loaded the bases in the second when Chelsea Herndon (Carrollton, Texas) singled ahead of a walk to Taylore Fuller (Trenton, Fla.) and an error that allowed Justine McLean (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) to reach. The Gators were not able to bring home a run, but Rogers made quick work of Tennessee in the bottom of the inning as she retired the side in order.

 

The Gators opened the scoring in the third. Merritt walked and Lauren Haeger (Peoria, Ariz.) singled before Stephanie Tofft (Lincoln, Calif.) reached on an error on a sacrifice fly that allowed Merritt to come home with the game’s first run. The lead was short-lived, however, as Tennessee responded with a three-run home run in the bottom of the inning to take a 3-1 lead.

 

McLean singled in the fourth, but the Orange and Blue were retired on a double play. Haeger replaced Rogers in the circle and the Lady Vols added another run in the bottom of the inning on an RBI double. Florida cut the deficit to 4-2 when Merritt led off the fifth inning with a home run over the scoreboard in left-center, her fourth homer of the year.

 

Junior Alyssa Bache (Clearwater, Fla.) came in to pitch for UF in the bottom of the fifth before Tennessee increased its lead to four with a two-run home run. The Lady Vols hit a three-run shot in the sixth to increase their advantage to 9-2, producing the final margin.  

 

NOTABLES

·         Stewart extended her reached-base streak to 36 games with a hit-by-pitch to lead off the game. The sophomore has reached base in every UF game to start the 2014 campaign, and is one game shy of the all-time UF record within a single season (37 games, Michelle Moultrie, 2011).

·         Merritt’s home run was her first since March 1, when she went deep twice against Fordham in Orlando.

·         The sophomore ran her hitting streak in SEC play to four games.

·         Tofft’s RBI raised her season total to 35, moving her into a tie with Haeger for the team lead.

·         The Gators tied a season-high for home runs allowed with three, and gave up multiple home runs in a game for the third time this season, all in SEC play (also: March 14 at LSU—3 HR, March 21 vs. Alabama—2 HR).

 

WALTON’S WORDS

Head Coach Tim Walton

On Florida’s preparation and performance tonight:

“I was pleased with the work coming into today. I thought we really had a very good approach at the plate. Defensively, we knew our personnel and knew what we were doing. The bottom line is we have to execute. That’s going to be the key. We have to execute everything.”

 

On opening the SEC schedule with series against three top teams (LSU, Alabama, and Tennessee):

“We still have a lot of season left, and we’re still 31-5. Obviously, we’re going through a point in time in the season where we’re not playing our best, but there is a lot of the season left. I told the team the same thing. There’s no reason to panic. We’ve beaten a lot of good teams. We’ve lost to some good teams. We’ll continue to run the best lineup out there that we can to win the next game.”

 

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UP NEXT

The series at Tennessee continues Saturday at 1 p.m. ET. Television coverage will available on CSS with Justin Cazana and Barb Jordan on the call. Radio coverage will be provided on WGGG (1230 AM), with Adam Schick and former Gator All-American Megan Bush on the call. In addition, fans can access Gametracker on the GatorZone.com schedule page to find live stats.

 

-UF-

 

 

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