UF roundup: No. 1 Gators softball tops Blue Devils
Published: Tuesday, March 18, 2014 at 4:31 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, March 18, 2014 at 4:31 p.m.
The top-ranked Florida softball team used a five-run fourth inning to put away Central Connecticut State in the teams' first meeting.
Senior Hannah Rogers pitched 4 1/3 innings of no-hit ball with a walk and a strikeout to improve to 12-2 on the season as the Gators defeated the Blue Devils 8-2 on Tueday at Katie Seashole Pressly Softball Stadium.
Both teams went scoreless in the first two innings before the Gators (29-2) got on the board with an RBI triple from Kelsey Stewart that plated Justine McLean.
The Gators' offense erupted in the fourth. The action began when Kirsti Merritt and Taylor Schwarz hit back-to-back singles to set up a three-run home run by Taylore Fuller that increased the UF lead to 4-0. Florida's outburst continued when Stephanie Tofft reached on an errant throw that pulled the CCSU first baseman off the bag, allowing McLean and Stewart to come home.
“I'm happy with our lineup up and down,” Florida coach Tim Walton said. “All of our starters had a hit. To me, that's huge when you can get up and down the lineup like that. (It's) really important.”
Stewart led the Gators with two hits. Her run-scoring triple gave her 31 RBIs on the season, surpassing her total of 30 from last year.
Walton has been pleased with her development as a sophomore.
“You look at our record, we're 29-2,” Walton said. “(Stewart has) been on base 31 games in a row. She's it. As she goes, we're going to go. It's really clear to see just how important she is to our team all the way around.”
Freshman Delanie Gourley replaced Rogers in the circle in the fifth inning, and continued to shut down the Blue Devil offense. Meanwhile, junior Bailey Castro added another run for the Gators with a solo home run in the bottom of the frame that pushed the lead to seven.
The Blue Devils got a pair of runs in the sixth on a two-run double before Chelsea Herndon hit a leadoff triple in the bottom of the inning, setting up an RBI single from Tofft that produced the final margin in the Gators' 8-2 win.
The Gators host SEC rival Alabama this weekend for a three-game series at Pressly Stadium. Friday's opener is scheduled for 6 p.m. and the game will air on FSN.
LACROSSE: Shannon Gilroy scored six goals and caused a career-high four turnovers to lead the No. 4 Gators to a victory over Dartmouth, 14-7, at Donald R. Dizney Stadium.
Florida improved to 9-2.
Four Gators joined Gilroy in setting career records as Caroline Fitzgerald picked up five ground balls, Krista Grabher had two draw controls, Mollie Stevens tallied eight shots and Mary-Sean Wilcox recorded a career-high save percentage of .800.
“The midfield did a really nice job tonight at both ends of the field,” Florida coach Amanda O'Leary said. “I thought they played well offensively — Shannon (Gilroy), Nora (Barry) and Sam (Darcangelo). I think Mollie (Stevens) had some key shots that were momentum boosters.”
Dartmouth (3-3) scored first, but Florida answered with three goals in less than three minutes to take a 3-1 lead with 22:12 left in the first half. The Big Green's defense held the Gators scoreless for nearly 14 minutes, before Gilroy sparked a four-run spurt that Florida used to close out the first stanza.
While the Gators had a 7-3 lead entering the second half, the momentum appeared to be in favor of the Big Green.
Each team scored a goal before Dartmouth found the back of the net three times in less than two minutes, cutting Florida's lead to 8-6 with 19:45 on the clock.
Following the Dartmouth run, Mary-Sean Wilcox entered goal for Florida and closed out the game, making four saves while facing six shots. On the offensive third, Florida finished the game with a 6-1 run that put the final score at 14-7.
“Mary-Sean (Wilcox) was unbelievable tonight,” O'Leary said. “She came in, made some huge saves for us and changed the momentum a lot. I was very impressed and pleased with her play tonight.”
Next up, Florida travels to Columbus, Ohio, to take on No. 20 Ohio State on Saturday at 1 p.m. This will be the second ALC game of the season for the Gators.
“I have to give a lot of credit to Dartmouth,” O'Leary said. “They are a really, really well-coached team and they came out and played hard tonight.”
Women's basketball: Florida senior Jaterra Bonds was selected to the All-SEC second team Tuesday by The Associated Press.
Bonds, a P.K. Yonge graduate, was honored after leading the Gators to a fifth-place finish in the final regular-season standings.
Bonds has been doing it all in her final collegiate season. She leads the Gators in: scoring (15.6 ppg), assists (4.3 apg), made free throws (163) and free-throw attempts (198).
Florida (19-12) earned the No. 11 seed in the NCAA tournament and will play No. 6 seed Dayton (23-7) on Sunday at 3 p.m. in University Park, Pa.
GYMNASTICS: For the second consecutive week, a Gator turned in the season's top all-around total in the nation. And for the second straight week, that performance gives the SEC Gymnast of the Week honor to a Gator. Sophomore Bridget Sloan takes the honor this week.
Sloan's total of 39.825 at Missouri matches the nation's top total of 2014 turned in by teammate Alaina Johnson on March 7 in the home finale against West Virginia. The two now share the Florida all-around record.
Sloan's tally is the top regular-season all-around total in road action since LSU's April Burkholder turned in a 39.875 at Texas Woman's University in 2003.