Florida Gator softball played its first two home games of the season Friday night as it hosted the Lipton Invitational at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium.
Fifth ranked Florida (8-0) continued its hot streak defeating UNC Wilmington 10-0 in its first game of the day, followed by a 12-0 beatdown of Savannah State. Both the games were called after the fifth inning because of the mercy rule.
Gator sophomore pitcher/first baseman Lauren Haeger was the unquestioned star of the first game. Haeger was phenomenal from the circle; she improved her record to 3-0 giving up zero runs and two hits in five innings of work, to go along eight strikeouts. She was just as impressive from the plate going two for three and leading Florida with three RBI.
The sophomore also led the Gators in RBI in the second game against Savannah State. She drove in four runs, two of which came off a two run homer, Haeger's first of the season. After a slow start offensively to begin the season, Haeger says she has spent the past week working hard to get back in a groove.
Florida shortstop Kelsey Stewart was also productive from the plate in the later game. The freshman scored three runs and hit the first homer of her college career, an inside the park job in the third inning. Stewart describes the experience of her first career round-tripper.
Stewart also had four stolen bases in Friday's games as the Gators steal 10 total bases as a team. Gator head coach Tim Walton says speed is one of his team's strengths.
One of the biggest story lines of the night for Florida was pitcher Alyssa Bache's “almost” no hitter. Bache carried a no-hitter through 4.1 innings against Savannah State before giving up a hit to the Tiger's Tiffany Taylor. Bache says flirting with a no-no is nothing new for her.
No-hitter or not, Bache still threw a one-hit shutout and improved her record to 2-0.
While Walton was pleased with his team's overall performance on Friday Night, he knows there always room for improvement.
The Lipton Invitaional will continue Saturday; Florida will play Western Carolina at noon, followed by Savannah State again at 2:15pm.