Softball Evens Series with Ole Miss
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Gator Softball bounced back on Saturday from its first loss of the season, defeating Ole Miss 10-3 at Katie Seashole Pressly Softball Stadium. No. 1 Florida (23-1, 1-1 SEC) evened the series at one game apiece to set up a rubber match with the Rebels (15-8, 1-1 SEC) in Sunday’s finale. Delanie Gourley (Lakeside, Calif.) earned her eighth win with three scoreless innings in relief ofLauren Haeger (Peoria, Ariz.).
Florida struck first as sophomore Kelsey Stewart (Wichita, Kan.) hit a leadoff single and stole second in the first inning. Stewart advanced to third on an errant throw by the Rebel catcher, and then scored on an error by the Ole Miss shortstop. Ole Miss responded with an RBI groundout in the second, but Haeger drew a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the frame to score Taylore Fuller (Trenton, Fla.) and give the Orange and Blue a 2-1 lead.
Ole Miss went back in front, 3-2, on a two-run double in the top of the third. Two hit batters and a balk in the bottom of the inning put runners at second and third with two outs, but Ole Miss snagged a line drive off the bat of Justine McLean (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) to end the inning. Haeger set the Rebels down in order in the fourth, and the Gators tied the game in the bottom of the inning on an RBI single from Stephanie Tofft (Lincoln, Calif.).
Gourley came in to pitch in the fifth, moving Haeger to the DP spot. The Orange and Blue loaded the bases in the fifth with singles from Chelsea Herndon (Carrollton, Texas), McLean and Stewart, and Haeger cleared the bases with a three-run base hit that put UF ahead 6-3.
The Gators sealed the win with a four-run sixth inning. Taylor Schwarz (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) started the inning with a single to left before Herndon walked and McLean singled to load the bases for Stewart. The Gators’ leadoff hitter laced a three-run double to center field—her second double and fourth hit of the day—to clear the bases. Briana Little (Middleburg, Fla.) plated Stewart three batters later with a sacrifice fly to center, producing the final margin in the Gators’ 10-3 win.
GATOR BITES—QUICK NOTABLES
· Stewart set a career-high with four hits, raising her season average to a team-best .435.
· The UF leadoff hitter also set a personal best with four runs scored.
· Stewart has scored 36 runs on the season; UF’s opponents have totaled 34 runs.
· Haeger had four RBI, marking her third game of 2014 driving in four or more runs.
· The Peoria, Ariz., native has 33 RBI on the year; the Gators’ opponents have tallied 31 RBI.
· Haeger extended her hitting streak to 10 games, tying a career high.
On the Gators’ production at the plate on Saturday:
“We went with a more offensive lineup today, just by putting Herndon in there and keeping Bailey in there and starting Lauren. We were able to do a little bit more, just by percentages. It was good. I thought we responded very well.”
On the confidence he gets from being able to bring in Gourley from the bullpen:
“I’m really happy with the way all three of our pitchers are throwing the ball. I think Delanie’s got some strikeout capability, and that’s huge in situations where you need to get a strikeout to keep the other team from being able to get RBIs. I’m looking forward to watching her develop.”
On what the Gators need to do on Sunday to win the series:
“We’re going to have to figure out a good adjustment and a good game plan against [Ole Miss starter Carly] Hummel. I’m not going to make our hitters go up there and be more aggressive than they were in the first game. I’ll still tell them to swing at strikes and go up there with a plan to put the ball in play. Make them play catch. Put the pressure on them to make some mistakes. When they get runners in scoring position, we’re going to have to shut that down.”
FOLLOW THE GATORS
The Gators’ SEC-opening series against Ole Miss concludes Sunday (March 9), when they host Ole Miss at 11 a.m. EDT at Katie Seashole Pressly Softball Stadium. Fans are reminded that Daylight Saving Time begins Sunday. The series finale against the Rebels will air live on SUN Sports, with Larry Vettel and former Gator All-American Megan Bush on the call. Live stats will be available through Gametracker on the GatorZone.com schedule page. Radio coverage will be available on WGGG (1230 AM), with Mike Gillespie providing play-by-play.
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