Gators end Vegas trip with win over Minnesota

Taylor Schwarz had a three-run double in Sunday's 15-2 win over Minnesota at the Easton Desert Classic in Las Vegas.

Brad McClenny/Staff photographer/FILE
Published: Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 5:26 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 5:26 p.m.

LAS VEGAS — No. 1 Florida completed a perfect weekend at the Easton Desert Classic on Sunday, defeating No. 24 Minnesota 15-2 (6 innings).

Florida (11-0) got its offense rolling with four runs in the third inning. Kelsey Stewart singled to center and stole second, then advanced to third on Kirsti Merritt's sacrifice bunt. When no one covered the plate for Minnesota, Stewart came home with the Gators' first run. After Lauren Haeger walked, the Gators got a two-run single from Stephanie Tofft, who then scored on a throwing error on Aubree Munro's infield hit.

UF plated three more runs in the fourth after Stewart reached on a bunt single, Merritt walked and Bailey Castro got on via a fielder's choice to load the bases. Taylor Schwarz brought all three runners home with a double to center that increased the Florida lead to 7-0.

Minnesota got two runs back in the bottom of the frame when Delanie Gourley (W, 4-0) allowed an RBI single, and another run came home when the Gopher runner beat Schwarz' throw to the plate on a fielder's choice.

In the sixth, Merritt was hit by a pitch before Haeger blasted a two-run home run to push the Gators' lead to 9-2.

After Castro singled, pinch-runner Jessica Damico stole second and went to third on a Schwarz single. Tofft drove home Damico with a single to right, and then Tofft and Schwarz scored on Munro's double to give the Gators a 10-run advantage at 12-2. Justine McLean's triple to left plated Francesca Martinez, who pinch-ran for Munro.

Two batters later, Chelsea Herndon hit a home run as a pinch-hitter for Merritt, driving in McLean to produce the final margin. Herndon's pinch-hit home run was her first career homer.

“I think Chelsea Herndon has a little bit of a tough job right now. She hasn't had a start. She's come off the bench and made the most of her at-bats. I think she's probably hitting .500, and she's got three pinch-hits for us. She got a nice pinch-hit yesterday as well. She's doing a good job," Walton said.

UF Head Coach Tim Walton brought in Hannah Rogers for the final two innings, and the senior tossed a pair of scoreless frames to preserve the win for the Gators, who completed a tournament with a perfect record for the second consecutive weekend.

Florida won its five games at the Easton Desert Classic by a combined score of 59-6.

“Obviously, we put good swings on good pitches. I thought our hitters did a good job with two strikes. They did a good job all weekend long, and anytime a pitcher made a mistake, it seemed like they made someone pay," Walton said.

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