FLORIDA SOFTBALL

Bache's pitching sparks Gators' strong start


Florida's starting pitcher Alyssa Bache has started four games this season, tossing complete-game wins in all four.

Brad McClenny/Staff photographer/FILE
Published: Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 8:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 6:58 p.m.

Facts

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA TOURNAMENT

Friday's games
Florida vs. Drake, 4 p.m.
Florida vs. Mount St. Mary's, 6:15 p.m.
Saturday's games
Florida vs. Drake, noon
Florida vs. FAMU, 2:15 p.m.
Sunday's game
Florida vs. Presbyterian, 1:45 p.m.
RADIO: All UF games on 104.9 FM
WHERE: Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium

There are a number of feel-good stories surrounding the surprising 17-1 start for Florida's young 2013 squad, and one of them is the improvement of sophomore pitcher Alyssa Bache. “I've just learned to get stronger, work harder, practice harder, work on getting people out and work on my pitches,” Bache said. “I'm doing a lot of things differently than I did last year.” Bache made 13 appearances with seven starts as a freshman, threw three complete games and allowed 31 hits with 31 strikeouts in 40 1/3 innings of work while holding opponents to a .211 batting average, earning Southeastern Conference All-Freshman Team honors. She posted a 5-0 record with a 1.39 ERA.


While her numbers were solid, they are quickly on their way to being replaced by even better ones. With No. 2 starter and fellow sophomore Lauren Haeger slowed by back issues during the fall, Bache, the No. 3 starter, and junior ace Hannah Rogers handled all the pitching duties. Those extra innings of work helped fuel the fire for Bache, a Clearwater native. “It helped me a lot,” she said. “Just getting game time and being on the field in the circle more made me work really hard. Only having Hannah available made me work even harder so I wouldn't have to have her go in for me.” Bache (4-0) has started four games this season, tossing complete-game wins in all four. She's made five appearances in all, throwing 25 1/3 innings and allowing just 13 hits, including only one for extra bases, and has allowed just two earned runs. She leads UF in ERA (0.56), shutouts (3) and opponents' batting average (.151) while also posting the top marks for hits allowed per inning (0.52) and strikeouts per inning (1.24). “She's definitely getting better, and I think that's one of the things that we're noticing as a staff,” head coach Tim Walton said. “We're going to try and challenge her. “Last year, she was able to go out in a lot of SEC games and pitch at least three innings, so I think now we're just hoping she can get through the lineup the second time. I know she can get through any lineup one time, so she just needs to show she can do it multiple times now.” Bache was one of 10 finalists for the 2011 MaxPreps National Player of the Year her senior season at Tarpon Springs East Lake and was a first-team ESPN Rise All-American after going 25-1 in the circle and tossing five no-hitters. As a high school junior, she once went 17 innings in a win over rival Pinellas Park. She was perfect through 11 innings and finished the game with 37 strikeouts. Now, she's quite happy being part of a talented UF staff. “I just think it's great that all three of us can throw a shutout, make a win, everything,” Bache said. “We can all get outs with our pitches and get strikeouts and help our team out defensively for the long run.” The Gators, who are coming off a 3-1 win over South Florida on Wednesday before a USF school-record crowd of 1,611, host a weekend tournament beginning today. UF will be joined by Drake (9-6), Mount St. Mary's (0-5), Florida A&M (3-11) and Presbyterian (6-6) at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium. FAMU and Drake start it off at 9 a.m., with UF scheduled to take the field against Drake at 4 p.m. and Mount St. Mary's at 6:15 p.m. Florida faces Drake and FAMU on Saturday at noon and 2:15 p.m., respectively, before playing Presbyterian Sunday at 1:45 p.m. in the tourney finale. Admission is free.

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