Bache pitches Gators past Hampton in regionals
Published: Friday, May 17, 2013 at 8:02 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, May 18, 2013 at 12:06 a.m.
Even though he has two elite starting pitchers, Florida softball coach Tim Walton decided to go with door No. 3 Friday night.
1 p.m. — Florida vs. USF (104.9 FM)
3:30 p.m. — Hampton vs. Ga. Southern
6 p.m. — Florida/USF loser vs. Hampton/Ga. Southern winner
And in her first postseason start, sophomore Alyssa Bache delivered.
The sophomore allowed only two infield hits and Florida's bats came alive in the third inning, as the Gators opened NCAA regional play with a 7-1 win over Hampton. Florida, now 53-7, faces South Florida at 1 p.m. today in a winner's bracket game.
“I was just excited,” Bache said. “You have to be prepared for anything.”
Florida fell behind in the first inning on an unearned run. Shortstop Katie Medina's high throw on the first batter of the game allowed Hampton to put a runner on second. A sacrifice and a grounder put UF in a 1-0 hole.
“That was an uncharacteristic mistake for Katie Medina,” Walton said.
But Bache was strong after that inning, striking out four and only allowing four Hampton runners to reach base the entire game. She recorded four outs on comebackers and another on a pop to the pitcher.
Bache, now unbeaten in nine decisions, only allowed two balls out of the infield. Diamond Ponds had Hampton's first hit of the game, an infield hit to deep short in the fifth inning.
“I've never had that many balls hit back to me,” she said. “I was ready for whatever came.”
The win sets up a matchup with South Florida, the team that knocked Florida out of last year's regional in Gainesville. Florida won its only two games against the Bulls this year, but USF (44-14) has won 33 of 35 since the second loss to Florida.
“They have (pitcher) Sara Nevins,” Walton said. “She's really good, one of the best in the country. You can prepare all you want, but you have to be able to execute.”
Nevins, who is now 26-7, pitched the final three innings of USF's 1-0 win over Georgia Southern in eight innings in the regional opener.
Florida has now won 19 games when trailing this season and jumped on Hampton starting pitcher Jailynn Jackson (26-12) with four runs in the third. After the Gators loaded the bases with nobody out, sophomore Lauren Haeger delivered a single to center to tie the game.
After a sacrifice fly by Taylor Schwarz gave Florida the lead, Kelsey Horton singled home a third run and Brianna Little followed with a triple, her second of the year, to make it 4-1.
The Gators extended their lead in the fifth inning when Horton blasted a solo shot to center, her 10th homer of the season, and Taylore Fuller followed two batters later with a long homer off the foul pole in left to make it 6-1.
Haeger singled home a run in the sixth and now has a team-leading 63 RBIs this season.
South Florida's Ashli Goff had three of the Bulls' four hits in that game and scored the game-winner on a squeeze play.
Georgia Southern (32-29) plays Hampton (33-25) in the elimination game Saturday at 3:30 p.m.