Alabama takes series from Florida with win
Published: Sunday, March 23, 2014 at 10:35 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, March 23, 2014 at 10:35 p.m.
For the second time of the weekend, No. 7 Alabama put three runs on the board in the top of the first inning to stake senior pitcher Jaclyn Traina to an early lead, and she responded with her second straight complete-game, two-hitter as the Tide clinched the series with a 7-0 win over No. 2 Florida Sunday before a crowd of 1,783.
With the victory, Alabama (27-5, 8-1) took a series from the Gators (30-4, 5-4) at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium for the first time since 2005 while winning for the 10th time in the last 11 games.
“I think the key is when you go in the hole three runs early, it changes the complexion of the game,” coach Tim Walton. “I thought throughout the whole seven innings we had good swings.”
Just as in their 4-2 win Friday, the Tide used the long ball to take a quick lead. This time it was sophomore Leona LaFaela doing the damage with a two-out, three-run homer on the first pitch she saw from UF senior Hannah Rogers.
Alabama added a single run in the fifth, then iced it with a three-run sixth inning.
That was more than enough for Traina (11-2). Unlike Friday's win when the Naples native overcame walking seven batters, she consistently hit her spots and walked just two. Also unlike Friday when the Gators got to her for a couple of late runs, she retired 17 of the last 18 batters she faced, including 13 in a row at one point.
Florida's only hits were lead-off singles by Kelsey Stewart in the first and Bailey Castro in the second.
“She's a good pitcher,” senior third baseman Stephanie Tofft said. “She throws hard for sure. We just had trouble making adjustments in the box. It just wasn't a good weekend for us.”
Rogers (13-3), who had thrown a complete-game, five-hitter in a 7-1 UF win Saturday, took the loss after giving up six hits and three runs, all earned, in just two-plus innings of work.
Freshman Delanie Gourley threw the final five frames and allowed three hits and four runs, although two of them were unearned as the result of a pair of Florida throwing errors.
“That's the first series we've lost in two years, so it's not panic time for sure,” Walton said. “We've got to make some improvements in a lot of different areas, but again, that's how the game works.”
Next up for UF are four straight road games, beginning with a contest against UCF Wednesday at 6 p.m. The Gators then face No. 3 Tennessee in a three-game SEC series Friday-Sunday.