Gator Sports Roundup: 4-6-14 Softball, Baseball and Tennis
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The No. 6/7 Gator Softball team outlasted No. 19 Auburn, 1-0 (8 innings) on Sunday (April 6) to sweep the teams’ three-game series. Lauren Haeger (Peoria, Ariz.) won the game with a walkoff single to score Kirsti Merritt (Lake Panasoffkee, Fla.). Florida (34-8, 8-7 SEC) climbed back over the .500 mark in league play with the win against the Tigers (31-9-1, 6-6 SEC). Hannah Rogers(Lake Wales, Fla.) pitched a four-hit shutout with one walk and three strikeouts to run her record to 16-6 on the season.
Both teams had a hit in the first inning, but each defense turned a double play to erase the baserunners. Auburn had a leadoff single in the second, but shortstop Kathlyn Medina (Downey, Calif.) turned a 6-3 double play to retire the Tigers. Taylor Schwarz (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) walked with two outs in the bottom of the frame, but she was stranded at first.
A hit batter and a walk gave Auburn two baserunners with two outs in the third before Medina threw home to cut down the runner trying to score from second to end the threat. She then led off the bottom of the inning with a single up the middle before Justine McLean (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) walked. Merritt reached on an error to load the bases, but a double play ended the inning.
The Tigers had a leadoff single in the fourth, but Medina combined with catcher Aubree Munro (Brea, Calif.) to catch the runner stealing for the first out. Two foulouts retired Auburn. Stephanie Tofft (Lincoln, Calif.) led off the bottom of the inning with a bunt single and Schwarz drew a one-out walk, but the Gators were unable to push a run across.
Rogers retired the Tigers in order in the fifth. In the bottom of the inning, McLean beat out a single to short and advanced to third on two groundouts, but Auburn retired the Gators to keep the game scoreless. Both teams went down 1-2-3 in the sixth and seventh, sending the game into extra innings.
Auburn made three straight outs in the top of the eighth before Merritt hit a one-out double to right-center in the bottom of the frame. Haeger followed with a single to center field on a 3-2 pitch that plated Merritt from second to secure the sweep for Florida.
· The win marked Florida’s first series sweep since March 29-31, 2013, when they swept Ole Miss in Oxford; the Gators’ last sweep at home was against Arkansas on March 22-23 of last year.
· The Orange and Blue improved to 4-1 in extra-inning games this season, with all of those contests coming against ranked opponents.
· Merritt logged her 10th multi-hit game of the season, and her third in the last six games.
· Schwarz drew at least one walk for the sixth consecutive game; she has walked nine times in that span after drawing 15 free passes in the first 36 games of the season.
· Rogers retired 14 consecutive batters from the second out in the fourth inning thru the end of the game.
· The senior worked eight innings for the second time this season (also: Feb. 28 vs. Oregon).
· The right-hander faced 26 batters, two over the minimum for an eight-inning game.
Head Coach Tim Walton
On how the sweep gives Florida momentum:
“There are a lot of positives you can draw from the weekend. We pitched a lot better, we played really good defense, made some nice plays, turned some double plays, and we were able to get enough clutch hits to win the game. That’s the name of the game.”
On Haeger’s walkoff single:
“It’s great. I thought her at-bats this weekend were really good. She wasn’t able to really get a ball elevated like she’s going to be capable of later on, but I still thought she had some better swings today and during the whole weekend.”
On Rogers’ eight-inning shutout:
“She was really good. That’s the only way I can say it. She had a good week of work, and she was really good today.”
On this week’s rematch with Florida State:
“We had a great game with them last time too. Both teams had opportunities to score more runs than they did, but it was a good softball game. We’re going to go in there with that kind of mindset to play the game that we play, and continue to build off our work and our confidence.”
Junior RHP/1B Lauren Haeger
On her feelings after today’s game:
“It’s the first sweep of the season, and it’s the first time in a while we have won a series. They are a top-25 team, so we knew it was going to be a battle out here no matter what. It feels really good to win.”
On her game-winning hit:
“I have to give the credit to Kirsti Merritt. If she doesn’t get on base, I don’t even have a chance. She hit a hard ball up the middle and hustled to second to make that a double, and I’m going to give the credit to her. I just wanted to get a base hit; I can’t get too picky. Again, I have to give the credit to Kirsti.”
On Rogers’ performance today:
“Hannah pitched a really great game today. I was doing her pitching chart [in the dugout] and she was doing great the whole time, making quality pitches [and] having short, quick innings. She didn’t throw a lot of pitches, which was helpful, and she hit her spots.”
On what today’s win does to give the Gators momentum:
“We have FSU again on Wednesday. I’m glad we could end [this weekend] on a high note to play them again. I’m excited to play them. I know everyone else is.”
Senior RHP Hannah Rogers
On her mindset today:
“I was just going out there, throwing my game, using my defense and then trusting that the hitters would eventually come through when they got to bat, and they did.”
On Medina’s performance today:
“She has been working hard. When she does play, she works hard and she is a very good shortstop. Everyone loves here out there. She is a leader when she is on the field. She takes charge and is always heads-up.”
On the pressure of being in a pitching duel:
“It depends on the situation. I just keep throwing my pitches and keep giving our offense a chance out there.”
On getting the series sweep:
“It gives us a lot more confidence to be able to play as a team. We never give up, and we have each other’s back throughout the whole game, especially when it can come down to the last inning.”
On this being a possible turning point in the season:
“It just gives us energy and shows we are working as hard as we are. We worked hard this past week on a bunch of little things.”
FOLLOW THE GATORS
The Gators travel Wednesday (April 9) to Tallahassee to face Florida State in a rematch of last week’s contest in Gainesville. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. ET. The game will be carried on WatchESPN.com. Radio coverage will be provided on ESPN 850, 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.
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