For the second straight game Florida and Tennessee went to extra innings in front of over 1000 fans at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium. After the Gators (26-3, 3-2 SEC) walked off with a win on Friday, it was the Volunteers (23-5, 3-2 SEC) who left with an 3-1 victory in eight innings on Saturday afternoon.
Outfielder Melissa Brown started the scoring for Tennessee in the first inning with a two out bases loaded single up the middle to score a run off sophomore pitcher Lauren Haeger.
Tennessee starting pitcher Ellen Renfroe (8-1) was dominant early, striking out six of the first seven hitters she faced. However, the Gators tied the game in the fourth inning when Haeger led off the frame by blasting a 3-1 pitch over the wall in right-center for her eighth home run of the season. Renfroe responded with two strikeouts and a groundout to end the inning.
Following her shaky first inning, Haeger settled down, surrending just one hit over the next five innings to keep the score knotted up at 1-1. Florida head coach Tim Walton says he saw a much improved outing from Haeger after she gave up two runs in relief during Friday’s game.
Junior third baseman Stephanie Tofft started a seventh inning threat for Florida with a one out double into left field. Sophomore first baseman Taylor Schwarz was then hit by a pitch and pinch hitter Bailey Castro drew a two out walk to load the bases. However, Kelsey Stewart popped out to second on the first pitch from Renfroe to send the game into extras.
In the eighth, Tennessee’s Lauren Gibson singled off Haeger and scored on a two out double from Tarango. Kat Dotson came up next for the Vols and delivered a double as well to push the score to 3-1. Sophomore Alyssa Bache came in for the final out. Renfroe then retired the Gators in order in the bottom half to close out the contest. She finished with a season-best 14 strikeouts, while surrendering just three hits. Haeger says Renfroe was able to capitalize on the Gator hitters not being aggressive.
The Tennessee win snapped a seven game losing streak in Gainesville for the Volunteers. Sunday is the rubber game of the series with first pitch at 1pm.