Gator softball roughs up South Florida, 11-1
Published: Saturday, May 18, 2013 at 4:47 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, May 19, 2013 at 12:12 a.m.
Florida's softball team turned what was supposed to be a great pitching matchup into a mauling Saturday.
NCAA Softball Gainesville Regional final
USF (45-15) vs. Florida (54-7), 1 p.m., Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium, 104.9 FM
Lauren Haeger tied the school record with seven runs batted in and Hannah Rogers pitched a one-hitter, as the Gators run-ruled South Florida 11-1 to advance to the finals of the NCAA Softball Gainesville Regional.
UF will play at 1 p.m. Sunday against these same South Florida Bulls (45-15), 2-1 winners in nine innings in the elimination game Saturday evening. If Florida wins, it will play host to a super regional next weekend. If not, the two teams will play a deciding game 30 minutes after the first game.
“It was just a great job by the Gators,” Florida coach Tim Walton said.
Florida roughed up USF starter Sara Nevins, who saw her ERA jump from 0.93 to 1.16 by allowing seven runs on six hits in an inning and a third.
“We know how tough she is,” Walton said. “She's still good.”
Nevins came into the game with a 26-inning scoreless streak but Lauren Haeger delivered a three-run homer in the first.
“I've seen her a bunch of times,” Haeger said. “I just have to get my timing right against her.
“The whole at-bat I was fighting. I knew they didn't want to walk me. I fouled off a couple of curve balls inside and I got my timing right on the last one. I wasn't sure if it was out. I was just thinking, ‘Please.' ”
It was the second straight game Florida went to the bottom of the first down a run, but after a bunt single and a hit batter, Haeger's homer barely cleared the left-field fence.
“That's the difference in the game,” Walton said. “If you're down 1-0 in the third or fourth, at-bats change. (Haeger's homer) changed the momentum for us. It was a huge at-bat for us.”
Taylore Fuller led off the second with a towering homer to left, her second in as many days.
“I've been seeing the ball pretty well and my timing is coming around,” Fuller said.
After Florida loaded the bases with one out, Nevins was replaced by reliever Sam Greiner. Haeger greeted her with a bases-clearing double over the center fielder's head.
Haeger was later hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to tie the UF single-game record for RBI in a game. She now has 70 RBI, 10 away from Megan Bush's school record. Her 19 homers are three shy of Brittany Schutte's school record of 22.
Florida starter Hannah Rogers, who won her 30th game of the year, allowed an unearned run in the first but only one hit in the game. That came in the third when Kenshyra Jackson's high bouncer deflected off Rogers' glove.
The Bulls loaded the bases twice in the inning, but only managed the one run. Rogers walked four, hit two batters and struck out six.
“That's Hannah's M.O.,” Walton said. “She's not going to give you anything over the plate.”
Although a throwing error by Fuller gave the Bulls their only run of the game, Florida's defense sparkled the rest of the game. Second baseman Kelsey Stewart made a spectacular backhanded play to get leadoff batter Kourtney Salvarola in the fifth.
“That was one of the best second base plays I've ever seen,” Walton said.
Stewart also had two hits for Florida as did Kelsey Horton, Haeger and Fuller.
Florida is now 54-7 on the season.
“The good thing about this team is they don't make a whole lot out of much,” Walton said. “They just play softball.”
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.