UF softball sweeps Rebels

Bailey Castro hits a pair of homers

Published: Sunday, April 8, 2012 at 8:26 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, April 8, 2012 at 8:26 p.m.

The third and final softball game of the Florida-Ole Miss series turned into Bailey Castro's coming out party Sunday.

The freshman from Pembroke Pines smashed her way into the UF record books, launching a pair of home runs, capped by her first career grand slam, to highlight a 10-run, third-inning explosion, as the No. 6 Gators completed an SEC sweep of the Rebels with a 14-3, run-rule decision before an Easter crowd of 716 at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium.

Castro, who was set back by a leg injury late in the fall, hit a two-run shot in the third to extend a 3-0 UF lead to 5-0, then stepped to the plate later in the inning with the bases loaded and two outs and clubbed a no-doubter over the fence in left field for her third homer of the series and fourth of the season.

“It was awesome. It's a great feeling hitting a home run, but a grand slam is even better,” said Castro, who added another RBI in the fourth when she drew a bases-loaded walk, giving her a career-high seven RBI that ties the all-time UF mark set by Melissa Zick against Illinois in 2006 and matched last year – ironically, also against Ole Miss – by Megan Bush, who also was the last Gator to homer twice in the same inning (2010).

“I'm just seeing the ball really well. I was having a good day. I just had an eye for the ball today and took a couple of good swings and the ball left.”

The win, UF's sixth straight, improved the Gators to 35-4 overall and 15-2 in the SEC, keeping them three full games ahead of No. 9 Tennessee (31-9, 13-6) in the SEC East race while also maintaining their slim half-game lead over No. 2 Alabama (37-2, 14-2), the SEC West leader and two-time defending league champion, in the overall standings.

“We had very productive, quality at-bats, and I think that's the name of the game in this league,” UF coach Tim Walton said. “You can't always get a hit, but you can have a lot of productive at-bats and have meaningful at-bats that are going to make you better and get us closer to scoring runs. That's going to be important.”

Senior leadoff hitter Michelle Moultrie and catcher Kelsey Horton joined Castro in having multi-hit games, with Moultrie, who reached base in all four at-bats, scoring three runs.

Freshman Alyssa Bache picked up the win on the mound, improving to 5-0 on the season. She had a perfect game going into the fourth inning, but was touched for three hits and three runs by the Rebels. She did rebound, however, to retire the Rebels (16-21, 3-11) in order in the fifth and final frame and downplayed UF's long at-bat in the third as having had a negative effect on her.

“I actually went in the bullpen and threw,” she said. “I don't know what happened. They just started hitting, so there was nothing I could do.”

“She's had a perfect game going into the fourth inning at least four or five times, I think, this year, so it's not mental,” Walton said. “I think they see her once and they struggle, and they make adjustments. That's what this league's all about. Good hitters make good adjustments, and they have a couple of quality hitters on that club.

“She's a freshman. She'll learn how to pitch and get better as we go through, but I was very happy with her performance today and have been very happy with her to this point in the season.”

Kendall Bruning (12-11), the first of three Ole Miss hurlers, took the loss.

Following a short road trip to play UCF in Orlando on Wednesday, UF returns home for a season-long, 11-game homestand to close out the month that begins with the opener of a three-game SEC series against Auburn (26-15, 5-11) Friday at 6 p.m.

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