The No. 6/8 Florida Gator softball team extended its winning streak to six games with a 10-0 victory over the North Carolina State Wolfpack in five innings Saturday afternoon.
After defeating the Florida A&M Rattlers Friday night 9-0 the Gators continued their hot hitting early Saturday placing five runs on the board in the first. The Gators batted around and got 10 total at-bats in the inning. The highlight of the inning came from junior outfielder Briana Little who lifted a ball deep to left for a three run bomb scoring junior Lauren Haeger who had a two-run double earlier in the inning and sophomore Taylor Schwarz.
The Gators would then follow that hit with a walk from freshman Chelsea Herndon and a double from sophomore catcher Aubree Munro. The double from Munro ended up being the nail in the coffin for Wolfpack starting pitcher Emily Weiman who came in the game with a record of 22-8 on the season. Weiman finished without a full inning of work allowing five runs off five hits. Gators Head Coach Tim Walton said after the game he was proud of his team’s fast start.
“We had some real quality at-bats, and we did some really good things. I was really pleased with the way we performed and the way we worked.”
Opposite Weiman in the circle was Gator ace Hannah Rogers. Rogers entered this game having won her last three starts and she looked dominant throughout. After getting all three N.C State batters to pop out in the first inning, Rogers was able to settle into the game early.
Rogers would cruise through the next couple innings before running into her one and only jam in the top of the fourth. After allowing two leadoff singles to the Wolfpack’s Molly Hutchison and Hanna Sommer, Rogers got senior Leah Jones to ground into a double play. The senior pitcher followed that with a strikeout and the Wolfpack’s “threat” was over.
For the Gators, a 6-0 lead just wasn’t enough.
In the bottom of the fourth the Gators would decide to give themselves more insurance sending nine batters to the plate. Sophomore Kirsti Merritt led off the inning with a triple and was driven in by Haeger’s second hit of the ball game. A few walks and an N.C State error would follow and the Gators had themselves a 10-0 lead.
With exceptional depth inside the circle, Walton would send Haeger out to pitch in the fifth and she would retire the Wolfpack in order to give the Gators their sixth consecutive victory.
The Gators improved their overall record to 37-8 on the season and with her tremendous four innings of work; Rogers would improve her record to 18-6. Haeger and Little would lead the Gators on the day with three RBI’s a piece and Merritt scored three runs on the day.
The Gators will now get a week’s worth of rest before traveling to College Station to face the Texas A&M Aggies on Friday. Despite the week off, Merritt says the team will get right back to work Monday.
“We’re going to keep working hard. We need to work on conditioning, get some fly balls from the managers, hit and just work hard despite the off days.”
The Gators currently hold an 8-7 record in SEC play and a good series in College Station would be very beneficial as the Gators move forward in conference play. First pitch of game one between the Gators and Aggies will be Friday at 8pm.
For post-game comments from Head Coach Tim Walton and a few players click on the links below: