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Lauren Haeger shut out the Razorbacks, and helped herself at the plate with a grand slam.

Saturday May 3, 2014Gators Shut Out Arkansas, 11-0, to Clinch Series

Fayetteville, Ark.

Lauren Haeger shut out the Razorbacks, and helped herself at the plate with a grand slam.

BOX SCORE

 

The University of Florida softball team won its final series of the regular season on Saturday with an 11-0 victory at Arkansas. Junior Lauren Haeger pitched a shutout, allowing seven hits with no walks and three strikeouts.

 

Florida loaded the bases in the top of the first on singles by Kelsey Stewart and Stephanie Tofft and a walk to Kirsti Merritt, but the seventh-ranked Gators could not bring anyone around to score. Haeger allowed a one-out single in the bottom of the inning, but stranded the runner with two popouts.

 

Taylor Schwarz and Aubree Munro singled to start the second, and the Orange and Blue (44-10, 14-9 SEC) loaded the bases on a walk to Stewart. Tofft reached on a two-base error with two outs, bringing home Schwarz and Munro, and Stewart came home on a wild pitch during Haeger’s at-bat. Staked to a 3-0 lead, Haeger (9-1) retired the Razorbacks (27-27, 5-18 SEC) in order in the bottom of the inning.

 

Schwarz increased the Gator advantage to 4-0 with a two-out solo home run to left-center in the third. Arkansas went down 1-2-3 again in the home half. Florida got a single from Tofft and a double from Haeger with two outs in the fourth, but UF was retired without a run. The Razorbacks had a one-out single in the bottom of the inning, but Haeger induced a fielder’s choice and a foulout to keep Arkansas off the scoreboard.

 

Bailey Castro doubled to lead off the fifth, but she was stranded as the Gators made three straight outs. The home team had runners at the corners with one out, but Haeger got a fielder’s choice and a strikeout to sustain her shutout.

 

Stewart started the sixth with an opposite-field home run that made the score 5-0 in favor of Florida, and Haeger reached on an error before Briana Little launched a two-run shot down the left-field line.  Arkansas had a two-out single in the bottom of the inning before the frame ended on a foulout.

 

Pinch-hitter Chelsea Herndon beat out an infield hit to start the seventh, and Merritt reached second two batters later when Arkansas’ second baseman made two errors on one play. An infield hit by Tofft loaded the bases with one out, and Haeger helped her own cause with a grand slam down the right-field line. The junior allowed two singles in the home half, but Merritt robbed a potential home run before a groundout to Haeger secured the series victory for the Gators.

 

NOTABLES

·         Haeger’s shutout was her second of the season (also: Feb. 19 vs. Jacksonville), and the team’s 15th total (12th by one pitcher).

·         The Peoria, Ariz., native recorded the Gators’ first solo shutout of seven or more innings since April 6, when Hannah Rogers worked eight frames in a 1-0 victory over Auburn; Haeger had the game-winning RBI in that contest.

·         The junior did not walk a batter for the fifth time in nine starts this season.

·         Haeger’s grand slam was her second of the year (also: March 1 vs. Ohio State), and Florida’s eighth. The Gators have the most slams of any SEC team this season.

·         Little extended her hitting streak to 11 games with an infield single to start the third.  

·         Schwarz logged her eighth multi-hit game of the season, while Munro recorded her seventh.

·         Schwarz homered for the first time since March 26 at UCF, a span of 17 games.

·         Stewart’s home run was her second in the last seven games; previously, she had gone without a home run for 17 contests.

·         The sophomore recorded her 23rd multi-hit game of the year, which leads the team; the Wichita, Kan., native has multiple hits in eight of her last 11 games.

·         Little homered for the third time in four games.

·         The junior extended her career-high hitting streak to 11 contests.

·         Tofft had multiple hits for the third straight game and a fourth time in the last five contests; the senior is second on the team with 15 multi-hit games this season.

·         Herndon’s pinch-hit single was her first hit since April 2, a span of 13 games.

                                                                                                                                                

WALTON’S WORDS

Head Coach Tim Walton

On Haeger working seven innings for the second straight outing:

“The last two games she’s thrown, she has really pitched. She didn’t overthrow at all today, either. When she doesn’t overthrow, her pitches break a lot better. They’re harder [for batters] to square up, and she’s had a lot of success.”

 

On the psychological boost a pitcher gets from driving in runs on offense:

“A lot of pitchers who hit, really enjoy hitting at the same time that they’re pitching. It’s one of those things that keeps them in tune with the game and keeps them competing. It takes their mind off the pitching, and vice-versa. I love it when she’s able to provide offense for herself, especially with big hits.”

 

On what the Gators need to do to sweep the series on Sunday:

“Tomorrow, we could see a lot of different pitchers and a lot of different looks [from Arkansas]. We have to stay poised, and focus on using the whole field again. That’s what I’m pleased about, is that we’re able to hit balls to all fields. We hit an opposite-field home run with a left-hander in Stewart, and we hit an opposite-field home run with a right-hander in Haeger. Being able to move the offense around is key.”

 

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UP NEXT

Florida concludes regular-season play Sunday at 1 p.m. ET, when the series finale at Arkansas will air on ESPN and WatchESPN.com. Adam Amin and Amanda Scarborough will be on the call. Radio coverage will be provided on WGGG (1230-AM), with Adam Schick and former Gator All-American Megan Bush forming the broadcast team. In addition, live stats will be available on the Razorbacks’ Website.

 

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