Castro's grand slam powers Florida past Alabama
Published: Saturday, March 22, 2014 at 6:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, March 22, 2014 at 6:13 p.m.
Bailey Castro's fifth-inning grand slam broke open a tight contest, and All-American pitcher Hannah Rogers did the rest with a complete-game, five-hitter as No. 2 Florida evened its SEC series against Alabama with a 7-1 win Saturday before a Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium crowd of 1,809.
Castro swatted a 1-0 pitch from Tide starter Leslie Jury over the scoreboard in left-center, her fourth homer of the year, to cap a five-run explosion as the Gators (30-3, 5-3) handed the No. 7 Tide (26-5, 7-1) their first SEC loss of the season while ending a nine-game Alabama winning streak.
“I've just been really working on my approach at the plate,” Castro said. “I've just been trying to take it one pitch at a time, so that's kind of my thing that I'm going through right now. It was a good pitch and I made a good swing, and it worked out in my favor.”
Coach Tim Walton hopes Castro's blast has some lasting effects on the junior from Pembroke Pines.
“That's big for her, because she hasn't had a whole lot of moments like that in her career,” he said. “We see them in practice all the time, and there's something to be said for someone who can play with confidence. You're going to be able to do a lot of nice things if you can play with confidence, and for her to come through with that hit with the bases loaded was awesome.”
Unlike Friday's loss when the Tide jumped out to a 3-0 lead, it was the Gators who scored first, plating a pair of runs in the bottom of the second off Jury (11-3), who took the loss, capped by a two-out solo homer by sophomore Taylor Schwarz, her fifth of the year.
A solo homer in the top of the fourth off the bat off Alabama's Jadyn Spencer, her second of the series, cut the UF lead in half, but that would be all the Tide would get off Rogers (13-2), who consistently hit her spots and induced a number of pop ups and ground balls. She retired the last nine batters she faced in order while behind her, the Gators played error-free ball for the 10th time in the last 11 games.
“Me and (pitching coach Jennifer) Rocha just worked in the bullpen on making sure to hit really good spots, making the batters fight up there and just using my defense,” said Rogers, who threw 97 pitches, 69 of them strikes. “The defense did a good job today.”
The squads will play the rubber game of the series Sunday at 1 p.m.