One of the toughest things to do in college softball is stand on the mound of clay and pitch a complete game. The signs from the catcher, the look in the batter’s eyes, the team anticipating your every move, the crowd chanting your name. It’s all something that Florida’s Lauren Haeger took control of and dominated as a freshman.
Haeger, a sophomore righthanded pitcher and first baseman for the Florida softball team, is getting ready to continue her career as a Gator. Along with being an outstanding pitcher, Haeger is a power hitter sitting at number three in the Florida record books for freshmen batting average (.321), freshmen home runs (14), and freshmen RBI’s (52).
“I learned so much as a freshman. It’s so different transitioning to college softball. I didn’t realize how long the season was going to be and now I know what to expect.”
The Gator softball team kicks off the season with a road trip to Tempe, Arizona, which is a place quite familiar to Lauren. She is a native of Peoria, Arizona, which is only around 30 minutes from the stadium the Gators will be playing in this weekend.
“I’m so excited because my whole family lives in Arizona. It’s going to be great because all my friends, my family, and my old coaches will be there and most of them haven’t had the chance to see me in person in a Gator uniform.”
Haeger is in the all-time Gator record books for a season for the seventh lowest earned run average (1.85), the seventh lowest opponent batting average (.210), the second most strikeouts in a seven inning game (7.24), the 10th most complete games (11), and the 10th most shutouts (6).
“I’m a curve ball/rise ball pitcher. I like throwing those pitches. If I ever miss the strike zone it’s going to miss high. When I’m batting I like the middle inside pitches. Those are the ones I go for the most.”
With six new freshmen on the team this year, Haeger stepped up and gave some advice on what to expect being new to college softball.
“I let the freshmen know how long the season really is. I also tell them to be fearless and not to let the surroundings get to them. It’s just softball and we’ve been playing it our whole lives. Don’t let the whole thing of being a Gator get to you. Just be who you’ve always been, play your game, and it’ll all work out.”
The team opens up the season this weekend on the road at Arizona with a total of five games Feb. 8th-10th. They play a double-header on Friday beginning with Creighton at 4pm followed by Oregon at 7:30pm. On Saturday they have another double-header starting off with Cal State Northridge at 2pm, followed by Cal at 7pm. Then on Sunday they take on the host, Arizona, with first pitch set for 10:30pm.