Gator Softball Downs Stetson, Advances to Regional Final
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida softball team defeated Stetson 14-0 (6 innings) on Saturday to advance to the championship game of the NCAA Tournament Gainesville Regional. SeniorHannah Rogers tossed a four-hit shutout, allowing one walk and striking out four batters.
Stephanie Tofft got things started for Florida with a one-out single in the top of the first, and the Gators (47-11) loaded the bases on walks to Lauren Haeger and Briana Little. UF plated its first run whenBailey Castro was hit by a pitch to force in Tofft. Stetson (39-13) had a one-out single in the bottom of the frame, but Aubree Munro caught the runner stealing after a strikeout from Rogers.
The Orange and Blue added another run in the second when Munro reached on a two-base error and then scored two batters later on an RBI groundout by Kelsey Stewart. Stetson had a baserunner in the home half on a UF miscue, but Rogers induced a groundout by the next batter to end the inning.
Castro doubled to left to begin the third, advancing on a sacrifice bunt by Kirsti Merritt before Taylor Schwarz pushed the Gator lead to three with an RBI single to left. A single by Munro set up Kelsey Stewart for a two-run triple to right-center, and Tofft drove in the sophomore on a base hit to left, putting the Gators ahead 6-0. The Hatters had a one-out single in the bottom of the inning, but the runner was hit by a batted ball on a two-out base hit to end the inning.
Castro drew a one-out walk in the fourth, and pinch-runner Justine McLean got as far as third before she was tagged out trying to score on Schwarz' two-out bunt single. Rogers (24-8) retired Stetson in order in the bottom of the frame.
Taylore Fuller singled through the left side as a pinch-hitter to lead off the fifth, and advanced to third on a sacrifice and a wild pitch, Fuller came home on Stewart’s base hit to right, putting the Gators up 7-0. The Hatters drew a leadoff walk, but Rogers stranded the runner in the home half.
McLean reached on a fielder’s choice with one out in the sixth, and the freshman scored from first on Merritt’s double to left-center to push the lead to eight. Pinch-hitter Chelsea Herndon plated Merritt with a single to right after a walk to Schwarz, and Jessica Damico scored the first baseman on a pinch-hit infield single. A walk to substitute Francesca Martinez loaded the bases for Haeger, who launched a grand slam to right-center that gave the Gators a 14-0 lead.
Rogers allowed a two-out single up the middle in the bottom of the sixth before completing the shutout with a groundout to third base, securing a berth for Florida in Sunday’s regional final.
· Saturday’s win marks the largest margin of victory and the biggest shutout win in UF’s NCAA Tournament history, surpassing a 12-0 win over Florida A&M on May 15, 2009.
· Florida tied a season high with 17 hits (also: Feb. 22 vs. Troy).
· The Gators’ 14 runs marks their sixth-highest output this season.
· The Gators’ four pinch-hitters were 3-for-3 with a walk and two RBI. All four came around to score runs.
· Stetson did not advance a runner to second base.
· Rogers threw her fourth career shutout in 16 NCAA Tournament starts (last: May 26, 2013, vs. UAB).
· Stewart recorded the first four-RBI game of her career.
· The Wichita, Kan., native hit a triple for the second consecutive game and the third time in 10 NCAA Tournament contests.
· The infielder had her 16th multi-RBI game of 2014, tying Tofft for second place on the team (Haeger – 17).
· Tofft had her fourth three-hit game of the season; all three have come in the last 15 games (since April 12).
· Schwarz recorded her 10th multi-hit game in 2014, doubling her total from her freshman campaign.
· After driving in four runs in eight NCAA Tournament games last season, Schwarz has four RBI in two contests this year.
FOLLOW THE GATORS
The NCAA Gainesville Regional concludes Sunday, when the Gators face the winner of Saturday’s nightcap at 1 p.m. (all times Eastern), with a rematch (if necessary) at approximately 3:30. GatorVision will have free, live video. WGGG (1230-AM) will provide radio coverage of all UF contests, with Adam Schick and former Gator All-American Megan Bush on the call. In addition, live stats will be available through Gametracker on the GatorZone.com schedule page.
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