Roundup: No. 3 UF softball wins at Kentucky
Published: Friday, April 12, 2013 at 10:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, April 12, 2013 at 10:35 p.m.
LEXINGTON, Ky. — The third-ranked Gators softball squad used three extra-base hits to open its series at No. 18 Kentucky on Friday with a 7-4 victory.
The Gators improved to 40-4 on the season and chalked up their 13th Southeastern Conference victory to improve to 13-3 in league play and 7-2 over top-25 competition this season.
Florida put up two runs quickly in the first, thanks to a junior Stephanie Tofft two-run double, while sophomore Lauren Haeger struck with a three-run bomb in the fifth, followed by senior Kelsey Horton's two-run blast for insurance in the seventh.
Horton went 2-for-3 at the dish for the Gators, while Tofft and freshman Kelsey Stewart were both 2-for-4 Friday, as six different Gator batters found the hits column in the series opener. Haeger's three RBIs paced the squad, while Horton and Stewart both scored twice for Florida.
Junior ace Hannah Rogers worked her 16th complete game of the season to improve to a SEC-leading 23-3 in the circle for the Gators. The righty gave up just three earned runs on seven UK hits, walked five and fanned four through the seven-inning contest opposite Wildcats hurler Lauren Cumbess.
At Lexington, Ky., second-ranked Florida earned a quick, 4-0 victory against Kentucky and won its 11th consecutive match.
The Gators (18-2, 11-1 SEC) won the doubles point before Alexandra Cercone, Sofie Oyen and Brianna Morgan won their respective singles matches to clinch the team victory. The remaining matches were abandoned once the outcome was decided.
“We had to move the match indoors because of the weather and we played well,” UF coach Roland Thornqvist said. “Sofie was exceptional today.”
Florida began the match winning the doubles point, as the tandem of Oyen and Lauren Embree defeated Caitlin McGraw and Nadia Ravita, 8-6, in the clinching match. The UF doubles team of Cercone and Olivia Janowicz topped Stephanie Fox and CeCe Witten, 8-4, on court two and the Wildcats' Khristina Blajkevitch and Jessica Stiles downed Florida rookies Danielle Collins and Morgan, 8-4, at the No. 3 position.
For Embree, the win was her 112th victory on the doubles court, where she moved into a tie for the seventh-most in program history with Joanna Mather (2009-12). Embree and Oyen improved to 21-3 all-time as a pair, including 11-2 this year in dual match action.
After a hard-fought home match, the 17th-ranked Gators eventually took down No. 8 Kentucky, 4-3, at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex.
Florida (13-9, 6-5 SEC) was able to grab an early lead by taking the doubles point. Mike Alford and Luke Johnson teamed up at No. 2 doubles for the Gators and beat UK's Grant Roberts and Anthony Rossi 8-5 to get things started.
In singles, Kentucky evened the match after Pennington beat Johnson 6-4, 6-4 on court six. Watson put the Gators back in front, beating Lai 6-3, 6-3 at No. 5 singles. Ten minutes later, Alford finished off Roberts 7-5, 6-1 on court four. After falling behind 2-5 in the first set, Alford won 11 of the next 12 games to win his match.
Jomby, ranked 21st nationally, cut into the Gators' lead after beating Diep 6-4, 6-3 on court two. Rossi, ranked No. 19, then evened the match at 3-3, beating Piro 6-1, 7-6 (5) at the top singles position, leaving the deciding point on court three between UF's Bob van Overbeek and Kentucky's Charles Minc.
After both players held to open the final set, Minc finally earned a break and then held serve for a 3-1 advantage. Van Overbeek got a break back to even at 4-4, then held to go up 5-4. At 30-30 in the next game, Minc hit a shot deep after a long rally to set up a break and match point for van Overbeek, which he converted after Minc forced a shot wide, giving van Overbeek the deciding point and a win for the Gators.