The Florida Gator softball team found revenge Saturday afternoon defeating the Alabama Crimson Tide by a score of 7-1. After falling to Bama 4-2 on Friday night the Gator offense came out with something to prove.
A problem that the Gators have had in multiple games this season is their inability to put runs on the board early. On Saturday they were able to cure that problem, and the means by which the Gators scored their first run was anything but exceptional.
The starting pitcher for the Tide on Saturday was junior Leslie Jury who entered the game with an 11-2 record and an ERA of 1.73. After walking the Gators DP Lauren Haeger to start the bottom of the second, Jury issued three illegal pitches throughout the inning to plate Haeger for the Gators first run of the game. Right after, sophomore Taylor Schwarz drilled a ball deep to dead center to put the Gators up two.
Essentially that would be all the Gators needed with the performance senior Hannah Rogers had in the circle. Rogers pitched a complete game on Saturday allowing five hits and striking out two. After giving up two hits in the first inning, Rogers was able to settle down and keep Alabama in check and she talked about what made her effective.
“After one time through the lineup, I was focusing on spots Alabama wasn’t adjusting too, and utilizing really good spots and trusting my defense,” Rogers said.
In the top of the fourth, Alabama was looking to crawl back as junior Jadyn Spencer hit a solo shot to left field and it seemed like we had a game again. But in the bottom of the fifth inning the Gators would put the game away.
Freshman Justine McLean began the inning with her second infield single of the game and she followed that with a stolen base. The two-hole hitter, sophomore Kirsti Merritt then singled up the middle to score McLean and increase the lead to 3-1. Jury walked senior third baseman Stephanie Tofft and immediately after loaded the bases by hitting Haeger with a pitch. Junior Bailey Castro then stepped up sitting dead red on fastball and belted one over the scoreboard for a grand slam to give the Gators a 7-1 lead. This was Castro’s fourth home run of the year and Gator coach Tim Walton talked about her huge AB.
“It was big for her, she hasn’t had a whole lot of moments like that in her career, we see them all the time in practice, there’s something to be said about someone who can play with confidence, and for her to be able to come through with the bases loaded was awesome.”
From that point on the result was never in question and Rogers was able to finish Bama out pretty handily in the final two innings. With their victory the Gators earned their 30th victory of the season and in doing so gave Alabama their first loss in SEC play this season.
Rogers improved her record to 13-2 on the year, and with yet another great performance she boasts the best ERA of the starters with a low 1.20. For the third time this season the Gators rebounded from a loss with a big victory.
On Sunday, the Gators will meet Alabama in the rubber match of the three game series. This is the third SEC series for the Gators this year and just like the other two; they will be looking to finish with a 2-1 series win. The Gators find themselves 5-3 in the SEC behind Bama which is currently 7-1. Walton says his team will need to be firing on all cylinders to take this series on Sunday.
“We need to keep the ball in the ball park and just pitch well. With that comes free swings and opportunities, so we really just need to pitch well and get the offense going early.”
First pitch between Florida and Alabama will be at 1pm Sunday from Katie Seashole Pressly stadium.
To hear post-game comments from both Rogers and head coach Tim Walton click on the links below: