With the weekend series tied up going into the final matchup, the second ranked Florida softball team came up short to Kentucky on Sunday losing 5-1. The game was tied 1-1 after five innings, but the Wildcats put up four runs in the sixth taking the lead and with a strong pitching performance by Chanda Bell, Florida was unable to bounce back. The series loss to the Wildcats marks the first SEC series loss for the Gators this regular season.
After getting their bats going and posting multiple runs against opponents prior to the Kentucky series, the Florida offense was contained to just seven hits and one run on Sunday. Kentucky pitcher, Chanda Bell, came through with a big performance against the Gators as she picked up two wins over the weekend including her complete game on Sunday. Bell walked just one and struck out thirteen as Florida head coach Tim Walton says the Kentucky pitcher had a great performance this weekend.
As for the Gators, sophomore Hannah Rogers started the game giving up the first run on five hits and striking out three. Florida freshman Lauren Haeger then entered the game in the fifth before Florida posted their first run in the bottom of that inning. But, after giving up four runs on three hits in the sixth, Haeger was given the loss as the Gators were unable to crawl out of the four run hole. Florida junior catcher Kelsey Horton says Haeger pitched well, but Kentucky made contact on the ball when they needed.
Florida’s pitching and offense will need to get back where it was before the Kentucky series as the Gators will take on Alabama for a three game road series to close out the regular season starting May 4. The Gators’ SEC record after this weekend is now 20-5, dropping one game behind the Tide who now sit atop the SEC at 21-4. Next weekend’s series against Alabama will be a new experience for Florida freshman pitcher Lauren Haeger who says it won’t be easy as she hopes to keep Bama’s runs to a minimum.
After the Alabama series, Florida will stay in Tuscaloosa to compete in the 2012 SEC Tournament which starts up May 10.