The No. 6/7 ranked Florida Gator softball team fell to 31-8 on the year after falling to the eighth ranked Florida State Seminoles 3-2 in eight innings Wednesday night. Coming into this matchup the Gators hadn’t lost a game outside of the SEC and they hadn’t lost to the Seminoles since way back in 2006, but Wednesday night both those things changed.
After having lost three straight and four of their last five the Gators were looking for some momentum as their foes from Tallahassee entered Katie Seashole Pressly sSadium. Much as every matchup seems to be with Florida and Florida state it’s heated and very excited, regardless of the sport.
The Gators started hot as sophomore Kelsey Stewart opened the game with a single to left field, stole second and quickly came around on an RBI single from senior third baseman Stephanie Tofft. The Gators would strand two in the first but a hot start was just what they needed.
Junior Lauren Haeger got the start for the Gators in the circle and she was fairly productive pitching four innings giving up just four hits and striking out one. However there were two pitches she wishes she could have back; in the third inning Seminoles senior third baseman Briana Hamilton belted a home run to right center and junior Maddie O’Brien followed with one of her own in the fourth to give the Noles a 2-1 lead.
The Gators would find production of their own in the fourth as sophomore catcher Aubree Munroe belted a hard ground ball off Hamilton’s glove at third, off Tofft into foul territory. Tofft would come around to score and Munroe was awarded with an RBI double.
Gators freshman pitcher Delanie Gourley would then get the nod in the fifth and despite just pitching two innings she had one of her best outings of the season. Gourley pitched the fifth and sixth innings and gave up just one hit, walked one batter and struck out four. Gourley earned her 100th strikeout of the season on the night and she became the first pitcher for Florida to get to that mark this year. After the game, head coach Tim Walton discussed his freshman’s performance on the mound.
“She threw the ball well, she was getting ahead, was really able to locate her pitches well and her off speed pitches worked really well too.”
Senior Hannah Rogers took over for Gourley in the seventh and successfully shut the Noles down, but with the Gators unable to score, we were headed to extras. Coming into the game the Gators found themselves 3-0 in extra-inning games.
Rogers was back in the circle for the eighth but after giving up a lead off walk and a base hit, FSU pushed across a run. The Gators were not able to mount even a base runner in the bottom half of the inning and the Gators losing streak was pushed to four. Rogers received the loss on the night and her record now stands at 14-6 on the season.
The Seminoles were secure with junior Lacey Waldrop in the circle as she pitched all eight innings, allowing six hits and two runs, striking out nine. Despite giving up a couple early runs, Waldrop kept the Gators in check for the final three innings and pushed her record to an outstanding 23-2.
The Gators will now stay in Gainesville as they welcome the Auburn Tigers. Despite their rough patch, Walton says his team will have to build off these losses.
“We have to do a good job of being able to rebound against a good Auburn team that’s playing really well right now. Just come out and do the same things we’re doing and eventually the hard work pays off.”
The Gators will open up their three game series with the Auburn Tigers on Friday with first pitch set for 6pm.
To hear post-game audio from head coach Tim Walton and freshman Delanie Gourley click on the links below: