The No. 5 Gator softball team (12-0, 0-0 SEC) is still undefeated after sweeping the competition in this weekend’s 2013 Lipton Invitational at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium.
In their first five games, the Gators outscored their opponents 50-1. However, the sixth would turn out to be Florida’s first true test of the season.
After surrendering three runs (two unearned) in the top of the sixth to Charleston Southern (2-5), the Gators were down to their final six outs as they tried to claw their way back from a 3-0 deficit. Even though UF left runners on base all afternoon, luck was clearly on Florida’s side. Three consecutive illegal pitches by CSU pitcher Jennifer Giles allowed two Florida runs to cross the plate in the bottom half of the frame. Florida sophomore Lauren Haeger said she didn’t view the illegal pitch calls as controversial.
Still trailing 3-2 entering the seventh, Florida got a 1-2-3 inning from junior pitcher Hannah Rogers (5-0, 1.47 ERA). However, the Gators’ hopes dwindled after Kelsey Stewart and Stephanie Tofft both went down on the first pitches of their at bats. With Florida down to its final out, Haeger (.414, 2 HR, 11 RBI) belted a solo home run over the right-centerfield fence to tie the game up.
Extra innings rules for the Invitational dictated that ties be decided in the fashion of a Texas Tiebreaker (teams start with a runner on second; no outs). Florida head coach Tim Walton believes the Texas Tiebreaker is the best way to decide games in a tournament.
After the Buccaneers went three up, three down in their offensive half of the inning, Gator senior Kelsey Horton (.321, 2 HR, 5 RBI) bunted sophomore Bailey Castro over to third. With one out, Florida’s Jessica Damico (.313, 2 HR, 5 RBI) hit a ball to deep right field that brought in Castro for the game winning run. Haeger said her teammates don’t get down when things don’t go their way.
Despite an offensive shortage in their last game, Florida batted .338, had a .464 on base mark and slugged .676 throughout the Lipton Invite as a team.
Up next for Florida is the Mary Nutter Classic in Palm Springs, Cal. The Gators will play five games over a three day span, including two against Top 25 teams.