Wednesday April 2, 2014Florida Suffers First Nonconference Loss in Extra-Inning Decision vs. FSU
The Gators fell to their in-state rivals for the first time in 12 meetings.
The No. 6/7 University of Florida softball team lost to No. 8 Florida State, 3-2 (8 innings) on Wednesday (April 2) at Katie Seashole Pressly Softball stadium. FSU (35-4) won the game when a run scored on a fielder’s choice, taking the first of two meetings this year with Florida (31-8).
Gators starter Lauren Haeger (Peoria, Ariz.) allowed a two-out single in the first, but stranded the runner. Sophomore Kelsey Stewart (Wichita, Kan.) led off the game for Florida with a single up the middle, then stole second before coming home with the game’s first run on an RBI single by senior Stephanie Tofft (Lincoln, Calif.).
Both teams were retired in order in the second inning before the Seminoles tied the game at one run apiece on a solo home run in the third. FSU took the lead in the next frame with another solo shot. The Gators evened the game at 2-2 in the fourth on an RBI double by Aubree Munro (Brea, Calif.) that bounced off the outstretched glove of the Seminole third baseman and deflected off Tofft, who went on to score from second.
Freshman southpaw Delanie Gourley (Lakeside, Calif.) replaced Haeger in the circle to start the fifth inning, and matched FSU ace Lacey Waldrop with two scoreless frames. Gourley allowed one hit and one walk with four strikeouts before yielding to senior Hannah Rogers (Lake Wales, Fla.).
The Gators left a potential go-ahead run on base in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings, and stranded a possible go-ahead run for FSU in the fifth. The Seminoles pulled ahead on an RBI fielder’s choice in the eighth, producing the final margin in FSU’s 3-2 win.
· A moment of silence was held pregame in memory of Heather Braswell, who passed away last Tuesday at the age of 17. In addition, the initials HB were etched behind home plate and in front of the UF dugout. The Gators first connected with Heather in 2009 through the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation, an organization that matches children who have brain tumors with high school and college athletic teams.
· The Gators took their first nonconference loss of the season, falling to 26-1 against non-SEC opponents.
· Florida saw its 11-game winning streak in the series snapped. The Gators fell to the Seminoles for the first time since April 5, 2006, and lost to FSU in Gainesville for the first time since April 23, 2003.
· The Gators played their fourth extra-inning game of 2014, and took their first loss in “free softball” this year; all four contests have been against ranked teams (three against Top-10 foes).
· With her RBI single in the first-inning, Tofft collected her 36th RBI of the season to break a tie with Haeger for second place on the team.
· Stewart’s single to lead off the game for the Gators increased her reached-base streak to 39 games (every game of the 2014 season), extending her program record.
· The infielder extended her hitting streak in against non-SEC opponents to 10 games, matching Munro for UF’s longest nonconference hit streak of the season.
· FSU’s two home runs were the second and third homers allowed by Haeger to a nonconference opponent (last: Feb. 22 vs. Troy).
· The junior allowed multiple home runs in a game for the second time this season (also: March 14 at LSU).
· Munro doubled for the second consecutive game after going without an extra-base hit since Feb. 22.
Head Coach Tim Walton
On the loss and how the Gators will regroup for the weekend:
“The main key is to continue to work at it. We’ve done a really good job in our practice habits. Our kids come to work upbeat every day, and they have a good presence about them. One of the things is that when you look at the schedule and you see Alabama, Tennessee, and even UCF and Florida State, there’s a potential there to lose games. We just have to do a good job of being able to rebound against a good Auburn team that’s playing really well right now. Just come out and do the same things we’re doing, and eventually the hard work pays off.”
On if this adversity will help Florida later in the season:
“No question. When we were No. 1, we weren’t sitting there saying, ‘We’re the best team in the country.’ It was, ‘How are we going to get better?’ It’s not where you start, it’s how you finish. We’ve had a lot of good teams in this program’s history, and this team is no different. They’re a really good team. We just have to find a way to do a better job in the clutch.”
Freshman LHP Delanie Gourley
On the key to her two shutout innings tonight:
“We’ve been working really hard in the bullpen on different strategies, [such as] trying different grips. We’ve been working hard, and it’s paid off.”
On how the Gators can regroup mentally:
“It’s hard. It’s never good to lose. When you lose one game, you can’t change it. You have to keep moving forward.”
On what adjustments Florida needs to make before the Auburn series:
“There are a lot of changes that can be made in every aspect: Pitching, hitting [and] defense. We’ll be ready. We’re going to prepare, and it will be a good weekend.”
FOLLOW THE GATORS
Florida continues a four-game homestand on Friday (April 4), when SEC play resumes against No. 19 Auburn. First pitch for the opener of this three-game series is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Katie Seashole Pressly Softball Stadium. GatorVision will have live video for subscribers, and 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.