The No. 3 Florida softball won its second consecutive SEC series after if defeated No. 6 Tennessee 5-3 in dramatic fashion on Sunday at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium. It was only fitting that the rubber match between the Gators and Vols went to extras after the first two games also took eight innings to decide.
After no offensive production for five innings, the Gators came to bat in the bottom of the sixth in desparate need of some runs. Trailing 3-0, Kelsey Stewart singled and freshman Kirsti Merritt walked; then sophomore first baseman/pitcher Lauren Haeger stepped up to the plate a smacked a pitch from Tennessee hurler Ellen Renfroe over the wall in right-centerfield to tie the game.
Then, after a scoreless seventh inning, Haeger came up again in the eighth with one runner on and rocketed a ball over the right field wall to secure the win for Florida 5-3. Haeger said she was not trying to hit ball over the fence when she walked into the batter’s box.
Haeger was not only valuable at the plate; she also closed out the game for the Gators as she pitched the final inning and a third of the matchup, allowing only one walk. The sophomore likes the fact the Florida head coach Tim Walton counts on her when the game is on the line.
Gator junior pitcher Hannah Rogers was in the circle for most the game for Florida. Rogers gave up two earned runs on seven hits, but Walton was still pleased with her performance.
Florida scored three runs off Tennessee ace Ellen Renfroe, who struck out 14 Gators on Saturday afternoon. Walton noticed his batters were out in front of a lot of pitches on Saturday which prompted him to tell his players to use heavier bats against Renfroe on Sunday.
Walton added that Ellen Renfore still had great day, but his players put in the extra work to be able to beat her in the rubber match.
Florida will be in action again at home on Wednesday, March 20 when it hosts USC Upstate at 6 p.m.