Gator Sports Roundup: 3-21-14
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The No. 1/2 University of Florida softball team dropped a 4-2 decision to No. 9/7 Alabama Friday (March 21) at Katie Seashole Pressly Softball Stadium. The Gators mounted a seventh-inning rally and had the potential tying run at the plate, but Florida was not able to complete its comeback. Freshman Delanie Gourley (Lakeside, Calif.) took the loss to fall to 11-1 on the season.
Alabama got on the board with three runs in the first inning via a two-run home run and a solo shot. Freshman Chelsea Herndon (Carrollton, Texas) doubled in the bottom of the frame, but she was stranded at second base. Gourley settled down after the opening frame, holding the Crimson Tide without a hit over the next two innings.
The Tide plated their fourth run in the fourth inning on an RBI single. Senior Stephanie Tofft (Lincoln, Calif.) and junior Lauren Haeger (Peoria, Ariz.) both walked to start the Gators’ half of the frame, but Florida could not produce a run. UA loaded the bases with two outs in the fifth on two hits and a walk, but Gourley got a strikeout on her last batter of the night to end the threat.
Haeger replaced the freshman in the circle for the sixth inning and held the Tide scoreless for the final two frames. The junior allowed two hits, with two walks and four strikeouts. The Gators notched both of their runs in the seventh inning on a two-run groundout by Herndon, with Justine McLean (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) coming home on the play and Taylor Schwarz (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) scoring the second run on an error by the Alabama first baseman. That brought up Tofft as the potential tying run with Kelsey Stewart (Wichita, Kan.) standing at third after she reached base on a walk and moved up two bases on Herndon’s groundout. Tofft hit a 1-0 pitch deep to center, but the ball was caught at the wall to end the game.
· The game drew 2,036 fans, setting a season high for the Gators at Katie Seashole Pressly Softball Stadium.
· Florida made two errors in the contest, snapping their errorless streak at nine games; the Orange and Blue entered Friday as the nation’s best fielding team.
· Friday marks the third time this season that the Gators have made multiple errors in a game (last: March 4 vs. Boston College).
· UF’s two hits marked its fewest in a game this season (previous low: 3, twice; last: March 12 vs. Mercer, Game 2).
· Kelsey Stewart (Wichita, Kan.) extended her reached-base streak to 32 games with her seventh-inning walk; the sophomore has been on base in every UF game this year.
· Stewart was 0-for-3, snapping her hitting streak at 14 games.
· Gourley and Haeger combined to strike out 11 Alabama hitters, tying Florida’s season high (twice; last: March 2 vs. Radford).
· The Gators posted at least one strikeout in every inning; Gourley had two strikeouts in both the third and fourth, and Haeger had two in the sixth and seventh.
· The freshman allowed two home runs in the first inning; she entered Friday with two home runs allowed in 67.2 innings pitched.
Head Coach Tim Walton
On Florida’s struggles at the plate during the first six innings:
“It’s tough to swing the bat when you’re down four runs. Three [Alabama runs] right out of the gate changes the whole complexion of the swings.”
On what the team can do to be more consistent at the plate:
“We still had seven walks, so I don’t think anything. We struck out 11 batters tonight as a pitching staff; we still gave up nine hits and four runs. When you look at it from a statistical standpoint, they’re overrated. Stats are overrated. We got two hits and still had a chance to tie a ballgame in the seventh. I don’t look at the number of hits. I think the at-bats were pretty quality. It’s very difficult to swing the bat when you’re down four runs.”
On if he thought Tofft’s game-ending flyout was a home run off the bat:
“I actually did. She hit it good. She hit it hard, so yeah, I did.”
Junior RHP Lauren Haeger
On the Gators’ comeback in the 7th inning:
“That’s what we’re all about. We’re all about fight. We like to wait until the 7th inning to get everyone’s blood pressure up. We like to fight at the end, it was a good fight at the end, but we have to make our adjustments earlier. We have to have better at bats earlier to come up from four runs. One run in the bottom of the 7th inning is different. We have to make adjustments throughout the game, including myself and everybody.”
On if it was disappointing to go down 0-3 in the top of the first inning:
“It’s not really that disappointing because we haven’t had any at-bats yet, so we haven’t had a chance to score, so we don’t really know how the game’s going to go. But again, we didn’t make adjustments when we needed to. That goes for everybody, me included.”
On the reasons for Florida’s offensive struggles early in the game:
“We just weren’t swinging at strikes, weren’t swinging at good pitches. I wasn’t swinging at good pitches. We weren’t swinging at pitches to where the umpire was calling balls and strikes. We were just all over the place and kind of guessing a little bit. We looked a little awkward. I felt a little awkward.”
Freshman LHP Delanie Gourley
On maintaining her composure after giving up three runs in the first inning:
“It’s never a good feeling to do that, especially [in the] first inning. The only thing you can do is bounce back, and that’s what I did.”
On how it felt to pitch better after giving up the three runs:
“I was glad that I was able to bounce back. You can’t change anything once it’s happened. You just have to keep playing the game.”
FOLLOW THE GATORS
The series against Alabama continues Saturday at 1 p.m. ET. The game will air live on CSS, with Bernie Guenther and Cheri Kempf on the call. Radio coverage will be available on WGGG (1230 AM), with Mike Gillespie on play-by-play and former Gator All-American Megan Bush providing commentary. 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 Craft 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 Fabric and Craft Stores.
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