Softball sweeps Arkansas
Published: Saturday, March 23, 2013 at 11:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, March 24, 2013 at 12:22 a.m.
Lightning struck twice at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium Saturday.
The first time, it came from the sky just three-pitches into the series finale between Florida and Arkansas, causing an hour delay to a game that had already been delayed three hours by bad weather.
The second time, it came off the bat of Florida senior Kelsey Horton and ended the contest.
Horton smacked a 1-2, two-out pitch from Razorbacks' starter Chelsea Cohen for a long, walk-off home run in the bottom of the seventh inning to give the third-ranked Gators (31-3, 7-2) a thrilling 1-0 win before a damp but happy crowd of 552.
“I felt pretty good all night,” said Horton. “I was seeing her (Cohen) pretty well even though I wasn't having good results, so I just went to my slap with two strikes and I hit one good. It was exciting.”
The win was UF's fifth straight and capped the Gators' first Southeastern Conference series sweep of the season.
“It feels great,” said junior All-American Hannah Rogers, who tossed a three-hit, complete-game shutout to improve to 17-2 on the mound and finish the series with two wins and a save.
“It was the third game they've seen Hannah, so you didn't know what kind of adjustments they would make,” head coach Tim Walton said. “I thought Hannah did a really good job. Her stuff was really good this weekend and really this whole week. I'm proud of the way she competed.
“She's constantly gotten better with her pitches, and she's featuring a couple of new pitches this year that she's going to a lot. She loves to compete. Sometimes when she puts a runner on base, she takes it to another level, which all the great ones do. She's really establishing herself as one of the best pitchers that we've had night in and night out.”
Despite giving up a lead-off double in the top of third and again in the top of the fifth, Rogers kept Arkansas (21-13, 0-6) off the scoreboard, finishing with six strikeouts and no walks while notching her 11th complete game of the season.
“I always tell myself just to act like nobody's on base and just go out there with confidence and know I'm going to get the batter,” Rogers said. “I just stayed strong the whole game.”
Cohen (10-6), who only allowed five hits in 6 2/3 innings but did walk seven batters, worked out of some tough jams herself, most notably in the bottom of the third when freshman Kelsey Stewart led off with a triple.
After a walk to freshman Kirsti Merritt, who immediately stole second base, the Gators had two runners in scoring position with no one out and the 3-4-5 hitters coming to the plate, but they could not score the game's first run.
Horton, however, made that a moot point with her game-winning no-doubter, her fourth homer of the year.
“That was a really nice swing from Kelsey Horton,” Walton said. “You don't see her take a swing like that with two strikes, and she really let that thing fly. It was a really good piece of hitting.”
Next up, the Gators will host instate rival FSU Wednesday night at 6 p.m.
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