Gator softball uses 10 hits to best Bulls

Published: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 10:32 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 10:32 p.m.
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Florida freshman Taylor Schwarz slows down as she rounds third base during a 9-1 Florida win over USF at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium on Wednesday.

Brett Le Blanc/Correspondent
The lights never flickered at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium on Wednesday night, but there seemed to be a power outage on the field. That's no slam on the No. 3 Gators, who had set almost unattainable expectations with three straight games with a grand slam. Florida ranks fourth in Division I this season with 57 home runs, 11 of which have been grand slams. The lack of long balls didn't faze Florida coach Tim Walton, who was more than pleased with the final score: a 9-1, six-inning victory over in-state rival South Florida, a team that advanced to last season's Super Regionals round with a 1-0 win that ended the Gators' season in the NCAA Regionals in Gainesville. “I looked at the number of grand slams we've hit this year, I think we led the country in grand slams in 2011, and we've got a lot of grand slams,” Walton said. “But I told our team yesterday, we can't try to be an ESPN highlight reel on every swing, we've got to learn to stay within ourselves.” Sophomore starting pitcher Lauren Haeger said she was happy the Gators (39-4) were able to win without any home runs.

“We had 10 hits, and we haven't done that in a really long time,” Haeger said. “Just timely hits, and getting hits with runners on base in scoring position. We really talked about that and worked on that hard this week.” While Walton liked the 10 hits on the scoreboard, the end result was more important. “It's not the number of hits, it's not the number of walks, it's not the number of runs, it's about being quality and being able to take advantage of some situations,” Walton said. The Bulls struck first in the second inning when senior Kenshyra Jackson, who led off the frame with a double down the left-field line, came around to score on an infield single by junior Ashli Goff to take a 1-0 lead. Haeger held USF from there, not allowing another run while striking out five batters and giving up four hits over six innings to improve her record to 11-1. Florida responded to USF's opening statement in the bottom of the second, tying the game at 1-1 on an RBI single from freshman Kelsey Stewart. The next batter, freshman Kirsti Merritt provided all the Gators would need with a two-run triple to give them a 3-1 lead they would not relinquish. The Gators added an insurance run in the third with USF freshman reliever Erica Nunn's bases-loaded walk, and two more in the fourth with junior Stephanie Tofft's two-run double to left-center that put UF up 6-1. Florida freshman Taylore Fuller, a Chiefland alum, had a pinch-hit RBI single in the sixth inning before the game ended on a two-run throwing error at third base. Senior Lindsey Richardson (10-4) took the loss for USF, giving up three runs on four hits in two innings of work. The Bulls (32-12) were on a nine-game winning streak before Wednesday's loss. Florida hits the road Friday for a three-game series in Lexington, Ky. The Gators have struggled against the Wildcats in recent years, being swept in Lexington in 2011 and losing two of three last year in Gainesville. “We've got a tough road ahead of us,” Walton said. “Kentucky is swinging the bat very well.” NOTE: Florida sophomore Briana Little set a new team record in the sixth inning when she was hit by a pitch for the 16th time this season, surpassing the 15 that Florida alum Francesca Enea sustained in 2010.

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