It was an impressive weekend for a majority of the Gator sports, but for the No. 5/7 Florida Gator softball team we may have seen the most dominant effort. The Gators seemed to be firing on all cylinders over the weekend in College Station and a couple big milestones were hit in the process.
The Gators (40-8, 11-7) swept the Texas A&M Aggies (29-17, 9-12) over the weekend and the outcome never seemed to be in question. The Gators ace and senior Hannah Rogers took the circle in the first game and she was dominant. Rogers went the entire game giving up just one run on seven hits, striking out three. Rogers let her defense do plenty of the work allowing four ground balls and a whopping 11 fly balls.
With Rogers’s ability to keep the Aggies off balance seemingly the entire game, the Gator offense needed just a couple runs in order to get the job done. Senior third baseman Stephanie Tofft hit a two run bomb in the first inning to give the Gators a 2-0 lead. The Aggies would respond in the third with their one run but the Gators would add all the insurance they needed in the fifth.
After two leadoff singles and a walk, junior OF Briana Little doubled on a line drive to right field that would plate two runs. The Gators would score one more thanks to an Aggie error and the Orange and Blue had a comfortable 5-1 lead that they would hold for the rest of the game.
On Saturday, the Gator offense grabbed all the storylines scoring a total of 17 runs on 16 hits. The highlight of the five inning game was an 11 run second in which Florida’s success at the plate became contagious and spread throughout the entire lineup. Sophomore center fielder Kirsti Merritt and junior shortstop Kathlyn Medina accounted for six RBI’s on two home-runs in the inning and that was just a chunk of the run support given to freshman Delanie Gourley who got the start for the Gators.
Gourley was basically handed her 13th victory of the season, but the freshman still came away with a solid performance in the circle. Gourley went four innings giving up three runs on five hits, striking out four. Junior Lauren Haeger pitched the fifth inning giving up a run but the four runs scored by the Aggies, which would be the most they score of the entire series was not nearly enough.
On Easter Sunday, the Gators received great efforts from both sides, the pitching was great, the bats were solid as they went for the sweep. Rogers saw the circle for her second start of the series and she was masterful. The senior once again threw a complete game for the Gators in a shortened six inning contest. Rogers gave up just one hit on the day and struck out nine. Rogers brings her record to 20-6 on the season with her two wins over the weekend and she has been on a tear lately.
The Gator offense once again got hot early and just like Gourley the day before, Rogers had way more than enough run production. Sophomore shortstop Kelsey Stewart led off the game with a solo shot and a two-run shot by Tofft a few batters later gave Florida a 3-0 led after one. The Gators would add two in the second and one in the third, fifth and sixth to go up 8-0, and that’s where it would come to an end.
The shutout victory for the Gators on Sunday was a representation of the entire series in which the Gators dominated. It was a happy Easter for Florida as they reached the 40 win mark on the season and ninth year head coach Tim Walton earned the his 600th career win. Walton is now 600-174 overall in his career and 477-110 since becoming the coach at the University of Florida.
The Gators now sit at 11-7 in the SEC on the year and that places them four games behind the Crimson Tide for first place. The Gators will now return home for some non-conference action against the Bulls of South Florida before the Missouri Tigers come to town next weekend.
First pitch between the Gators and Bulls is set for 6pm on Wednesday.