Florida softball's skid now at four straight
Published: Wednesday, April 2, 2014 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, April 3, 2014 at 12:00 a.m.
The No. 6-ranked Florida softball team, which started the season by winning 22 consecutive games, has hit a lull. The Gators' losing streak reached four games Wednesday after No. 8 Florida State won 3-2 in eight innings.
It is Florida's sixth loss in eight games, all against teams ranked in the top 10 in the nation. The Gators fall to 31-8.
“There is no panic in the coaching staff,” Florida coach Tim Walton said. “There is no panic in the players.
“When you look at the losses we've had, what (ranking) is in front of their name? It has more to do with the opponents we have played more than it has to do with us. Are we where we want to be? No, but the season is not over yet.”
Seminoles leadoff hitter Tiffani Brown beat Florida first baseman Taylor Schwarz's throw home to score the game-winning run. FSU (35-4) snapped an 11-game losing streak against Florida that dated back to 2006.
“Every year we come down here it has been a nail-bitter,” FSU coach Lonni Alameda said. “We have always had games down here where we have felt we had them and couldn't finish.”
Florida starting pitcher Lauren Haeger uncharacteristically gave up two solo home runs.
Briana Hamilton led off the third inning with a home run. Three batters later, Seminoles shortstop Maddie O'Brien also homered off Haeger. Coming in Haeger had given up just three home runs in 54 innings pitched this season.
Seminoles starter Lacey Waldrop (23-2) gave up an RBI single to Stephanie Tofft in the first inning to give UF an early.
Hamilton's homer tied the game at 1-all and O'Brien's shot gave Florida State a 2-1 lead.
An Aubree Munro double in fourth scored Tofft to tie the game 2-2.
Kirsti Merritt delivered what appeared to be the game-winning hit in the seventh for UF. Her liner up the middle, however, was hauled in on the run by O'Brien, sending the game to extra innings.
Delanie Gourley pitched two innings of one-hit ball while striking out four for UF. Relief pitcher Hannah Rogers (14-6) got out of the seventh, but couldn't escape the eighth. After Brown led off with a walk, Courtney Senas roped a come-backer that hit of off Rogers' glove as well as second baseman Chelsea Herndon's glove and rolled into center field. Brown tested Merritt's arm in center field and slid safely into third base.
Florida opens a three-game series at home against No. 19 Auburn at 6 p.m. Friday.