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Michigan Forces Decisive Game 3 Against Florida In WCWS Final

By on June 3rd, 2015

Kelsey Susalla

Kelsey Susalla connects with a pitch and hits it to center

Going into Game 2 of the Women’s College World Series, it seemed like the Florida  softball team was on its way to winning another national title. UF won a closely contested first game on Monday, and they didn’t even use Lauren Haeger in the circle. By starting the National Player of the Year in Game 2, the Gators were ready to win.

What wasn’t accounted for was Michigan’s decision to start Haylie Wagner, one of the hottest pitchers in the country who didn’t concede a run to Florida in Game 1 when she pitched in relief. Wagner’s dominance in the circle got the Wolverines a 1-0 win in Game 2 in the Women’s College World Series, forcing a win or go home scenario on Wednesday. Gator coach Tim Walton tipped his cap to Michigan after the game.

“I thought they played a really good defensive game. Haylie Wagner pitched a really good one. And I thought their intensity right from pitch one was good, just a good softball game. Obviously we came up on the short end of the stick with the runs but good softball play, some good defense all the way around.”

Haeger pitched a great game for Florida. In fact, she allowed fewer hits than Wagner. But Kelsey Susalla’s RBI single in the bottom of the first was exactly what the Wolverines needed to win. It was just Haeger’s second loss of the season. She said after the game that she is going to give it her all on Wednesday night.

“I obviously want to win my last game in a Gator uniform, that means a lot to me. I just want to leave it all out there on the field and not play scared.”

Wagner pitched with runners on base for most of her seven complete innings. Thankfully for Michigan, their defense played just as well as the Gator defense did in Game 1. That and the ability of Wagner to keep the Gator hitters off-balance got them the victory. Walton believed his team’s plate approach was the same in Game 1 and 2.

“The swings looked pretty similar yesterday with a 3-0 lead as opposed to today being down 0-1. I think it’s her (Wagner). We struggled with her twice this season.”

The third and final game of the Women’s College World Series Championship Series will get underway at 8 p.m. on Wednesday.

For full audio clips of quotes above, click below:

Tim Walton recaps the loss against Michigan

Haeger on her approaching her last Gator game

Walton on his offense’s plate approach

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Wednesday Sports Update (6/3)

By on June 3rd, 2015

The Gator softball team plays for a national title, the Stanley Cup Finals begin, baseball and more in our Wednesday Sports Update…

** The Gator softball team plays a winner take all game tonight against Michigan in the College World Series.   The best of three series is tied 1-1 after a 1-0 Michigan win last night.

** The Stanley Cup Finals begin tonight as Tampa Bay hosts Chicago.

** The French Open continues today.   Roger Federer was beaten on the men’s side yesterday.   Fifth seed Kei Nishikori was also beaten.   On the women’s side, no major upsets.

** Running back Adrian Peterson finally returns to the Minnesota Vikings after nine months away from the team after being involved in various legal issues.

** Quarterback Cam Newton has signed a new five year deal with the Carolina Panthers for over $100 million.

** In baseball, Miami beat the Chicago Cubs 5-2; Arizona nips Atlanta 7-6 and the Tampa Bay Rays down the LA Angels 7-1.  Those same match ups take place today.

** FIFA is looking for a new president after Sepp Blatter, who was just re-elected president a few days ago, suddenly resigned on Tuesday.

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Gator Softball One Win Away From Another WCWS Title

By on June 2nd, 2015

The Florida Gators celebrate

The Florida Gators celebrate the win with fans in the stands

The distance from third base to home plate is 60 feet in college softball.

That’s how close the Michigan Wolverines were to tying the game up at three in the top of the seventh inning in their game last night against Florida in the College World Series.  An indecision from Sierra Romero, a National Player of the Year finalist, at third base was the possible difference between a Gator victory and what could have been another extra inning game for Florida as the Gators beat Michigan 3-2 to move to within one win of back to back national titles.

Florida coach Tim Walton was unsure of why Romero stayed at third.

“After Katie touched the bag and spun, I thought she was going again. But it looked as though Katie was coming towards 4 (home). So I think she then saw that. That’s what I saw from where I was at in the dugout.”

Florida led 3-0 in the seventh inning when Delanie Gourley relieved Gator starting pitcher Aleshia Ocasio who pitched well for Florida.   Gourley walked the first batter she faced, Romero, and gave up a single that put runners on first and third.

That’s when a sharp ground ball was hit to Katie Medina at short; Romero hesitated at third base and did not run as Florida got a force out at second base.   A strikeout and ground out later, and Florida came away with the win.

Even though she wasn’t in the circle, Lauren Haeger managed to contribute immensely to the Gator victory. The National Player of the Year got the scoring started in the bottom of the first with a two-run home run to left field. Just two innings later, she roped a pitch to right-center field and drove in Nicole DeWitt for the RBI double. Florida picked up the early 3-0 lead in just three innings. Haeger explained her team’s early success against Michigan.

“I think we were just swinging against good pitches. We had a good plan. We watched video and we prepared as well as we needed to do.”

The last time Aleshia Ocasio pitched in a live game was against FAMU in the NCAA Regional. With consideration to Lauren Haeger’s 160-pitch game against Auburn, head coach Tim Walton gave the ball to Ocasio to start the first game of the World Series. The freshman pitcher was proven against Michigan, totaling 11 innings over two games in the regular season and she only allowed four hits. Ocasio said after the game, with the help of her teammates, she is always prepared.

“When I’m throwing my bullpens, going out there with a stand-in. So they’re coming in there and helping me prepare for batters that are coming up in the lineup. Basically everyone contributes to me being mentally prepared.”

Ocasio was stellar through five innings. She couldn’t go an inning without allowing a base runner, but timely pitching and great defense guided her to pitching five scoreless innings. In the sixth however, Michigan was able to get two runs from a RBI single from Abby Ramirez. A decision needed to be made: keep Ocasio in, put in a tired Haeger, or bring in Delanie Gourley who hadn’t pitched since May 8. Walton went with Gourley, and she felt confident coming in because of her experience in the World Series.

“I think having the experience from last year it really carried over to this year. There’s a ton of people watching, and it just made it that much easier to know that I’ve been there before, and I could help my team in any way I could.”

Game 2 of the College World Series is tonight at 8 p.m.

For full audio clips of quotes above and more, click below:

Walton recaps the win against Michigan

Walton on what has helped him in making his decisions

Gourley’s take on the wild final inning

Haeger proud of Ocasio and Gourley

Ocasio on how she stayed ready

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College Baseball Super Regionals Set; Lots Of SEC Flavor

By on June 2nd, 2015

The Super Regionals are now set in college baseball for this weekend and a lot of SEC teams will be in action trying to get to the College World Series.

Florida will host old rival Florida State this weekend after the Seminoles won the Tallahassee Regional by beating College of Charleston 8-1.

LSU beat UNC Wilmington 2-0 to advance to play at home against Louisiana Lafayette.   Vanderbilt crushed Radford 21-0 to advance to play at Illinois.   Arkansas was supposed to play at Missouri State but because of a scheduling conflict, Missouri State has to play at Arkansas.

Texas A&M also advances after beating Cal 3-1 Monday; the Aggies will play TCU, a 9-8 winner over NC State on Monday after trailing in the game 8-1 in the eighth inning.

The other match ups find Maryland at Virginia as the Terps knock off UCLA, the overall number one national seed in that regional.  Cal State Fullerton will play at Louisville and four seed VCU will play at Miami.

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Florida Baseball Defeats FAU; Two Wins Away From Omaha

By on June 1st, 2015

For the fifth time in eight years under the guidance of head coach Kevin O’Sullivan, the Florida baseball team will be advancing to the Super Regional of the NCAA Tournament. The Gators rolled through its NCAA Regional with a win against Florida Atlantic 2-1 on Sunday.

photo (2)

Florida fell behind to Florida Atlantic in the first inning when Ricky Santiago picked up an RBI single. After giving up the only earned run from Florida starting pitchers this weekend, Alex Faedo began to settle in. The freshman had his best outing of the year according to Kevin O’Sullivan who was very happy with his team’s performance on the hill.

“It’s a valuable lesson learned; elimination games are never going to be easy. I thought Sean Labsan (FAU) did a great job, and I thought that Alex Faedo pitched his best he has all year. Bobby Poyner came in and pitched outstanding, and Taylor Lewis came in and closed it out. We played great defense. We’re excited about moving forward and playing in the Super Regional here next week.”

Faedo finished the game with six full innings on the mound alongside a career high six strikeouts. Faedo earned the win and handed the ball over to lefty senior Bobby Poyner who pitched for two innings until the game went into a 67 minute rain delay. Taylor Lewis closed things out for Florida in the ninth in simple fashion only facing four batters.

Offensively it wasn’t the most dominant performance we have seen out of Florida this season, but it was enough to get the job done. The Regional MVP JJ Schwarz finished with one hit and one RBI. In the fourth Schwarz hit a ball to the second baseman that he couldn’t handle giving Florida it’s first run. Schwarz finished Regional photo (1)play with a batting average of .538 and six RBI over three games.

Schwarz says that hitting has been contagious for UF as of late.

“When guys are in scoring position, it’s easy to hit. I think that everyone as a whole is benefiting off of each other.”

Florida took the final lead in the sixth when Schwarz delivered an RBI single to left field. Josh Tobias was also big on Sunday going 3 for-4 with one run scored. The Gators now await the winner of Florida State and College of Charleston who play Monday at 2. College of Charleston will have to knock off FSU twice in order to gain a date with the Gators this upcoming weekend.

Post game sound from Sunday:

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Gators Back In The WCWS Final; Will Face Michigan For The Crown

By on May 31st, 2015

The Florida Gator softball team needed extra innings Sunday but it got the job done, beating the Auburn Tigers 3-2 in the Women’s College World Series semifinal. The Gators find themselves in the championship for the fourth time in school history and in consecutive years. Florida looks to become just the third school in the history of the World Series to win back-to-back national titles. Head coach Tim Walton shared his thoughts on this year’s team.

“They’re such great people and great character and great competitors. I think sometime you can have great athletes and they might not know what they’re doing. These guys are fighters. We built this program because of them and they know how to win.”

Lauren Haeger got her 31st win of the year, but she wasn’t herself. The National Player of the Year conceded a base runner in every single inning of the game. There were several innings where Auburn got the bases loaded, but great defensive plays bailed out Haeger. Most notably, center fielder Kirsti Merritt threw out a runner going home from the outfield in two separate innings.

The scoring started in the bottom of the third when Justine McLean advanced home after Auburn pitcher Lexi Davis threw a wild pitch. The Tigers quickly answered in the top of the fourth with a two run single from Branndi Melero. With Auburn up 2-1, it marked the first time in the 2015 NCAA Tournament that the Gators were trailing in a game. It didn’t last a full inning, however, because Taylore Fuller tied the game in the bottom half of the frame with a laser shot home run. The game would remain tied at 2-2 for four innings.

Fuller talked about overcoming the deficit.

“Obviously, it’s hard to stay up but we proved all season we can come back, whether we’re down by nine or we’re down by one, we’re going to come back and you better be ready for that. So the energy is always up in the dugout no matter what the score is.”

It was in the bottom of the ninth where, with Justine McLean on second base, freshman Nicole DeWitt slapped the ball in shallow left field and head coach Tim Walton sent McLean home without hesitation. The throw was late and the pandemonium began. DeWitt commented on the at-bat after the game.

“I was just trying to keep it simple. I had a rough couple previous at-bats. I went to my slap and then I just tried to place the ball and fill a hole, and found the hole and Justine came around and scored.”

After the Gators and Tigers cleared the field, LSU and Michigan squared off to see who would join Florida in the championship series. With a 6-3 victory, Michigan will also be competing for its second national championship.

The Gators and Wolverines have met twice this year. Both games resulted in a Florida win, 2-1 and 7-4. Aleshia Ocasio picked up the win in both games, the first being a complete game and the second in relief.

Offensively, Sierra Romero leads Big Blue. She has one of the most impressive stat lines in the entire country with a .466 batting average, 21 home runs and 81 runs batted in. Kelly Christner has the same home run total as Romero with a .412 batting average and 67 runs batted in. All in all they have one of the best offenses in the entire country, ranking towards the top in runs per game and total home runs.

Michigan is just as impressive in the circle. Megan Betsa and Haylie Wagner both have sub-1.75 ERAs with more than 20 wins. Betsa ranks in the top 10 in strikeouts, wins and shutouts. One major key is for both these pitchers is to slow down Lauren Haeger and the rest of the dynamic Gator offense.

First pitch on Monday will be at 8 p.m.

Posted in Gator Softball, Southeastern Conference | Leave a comment

Gator Softball Set To Play Another Set Of Tigers In The WCWS Semifinal

By on May 31st, 2015

With a win against the LSU Tigers on Friday, the Florida Gator softball team earned itself a day off on Saturday. The Gators witnessed a wild day that is Elimination Saturday in the Women’s College World Series to figure out who they would play on Sunday. By defeating Tennessee and UCLA, the Auburn Tigers have found themselves in the semifinal against the Gators.

Auburn and Florida have not faced each other in the 2015 season. The Tigers were one of the hottest teams entering the World Series with a series win against LSU at Baton Rouge, an SEC Tournament crown, and a perfect 5-0 record in the NCAA Tournament. Not bad for a team making their debut in Oklahoma City. LSU beat them in their opening game and the pressure was on entering Elimination Saturday.

Close 4-2 and 11-10 wins against Tennessee and UCLA have put them one step away from the Women’s College World Series final.

Emily Carosone is the Auburn offensive leader. She hits .441 on the year with 18 home runs and 80 runs batted in. Tiffany Howard is another player hitting above .400 for the Tigers. Kasey Cooper, Haley Fagan, Branndi Melero, and Jade Rhodes have all hit for at least 10 home runs and 56 runs batted in. The Auburn offense is quite balanced.

As for pitching, all three pitchers have started around the same amount of games. Lexi Davis has the most wins at 25, but her ERA is the highest of the three at 3.96. Rachael Waters has the lowest earned run average on the team at 2.83. Marcy Harper has given up the least amount of hits, but she has pitched the least amount of innings.

First pitch on Sunday is at 1 p.m. Florida just needs to win one game to advance while Auburn needs to win two.

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Florida Baseball Defeats USF; One Game Away From Super Regional

By on May 31st, 2015

Another successful start from Andrew Jacob or “A. J.” Puk helped lead the Florida baseball team to an 8-2 win over USF Saturday in an NCAA Regional game.   Florida is now one win away from advancing to a Super Regional, which it would host if it gets to that point.

Puk was dominant in his start and USF coach Mark Kingston agreed.

“When you’re left-handed and throw 97 you always have a chance to win.”

Puk threw seven scoreless innings, striking out eight along the way and he now has an impressive 48 strikeouts in his last five starts. In his last three outings only two runners have reached home plate. Puk now owns nine wins, a team high.

After the game Puk said things just went right.

“I found rhythm and everything else fell in to place,” he said.

puk photoNothing fell in to place offensively for USF as only one the last 19 batters Puk faced reached base.

Florida finally warmed up at the plate in the third inning when Buddy Reed golfed a low fastball over the right field fence to give the Gators a 2-0 advantage. Kevin O’Sullivan said postgame that he wasn’t expecting anyone to go yard with the wind conditions that were at McKethan Stadium.

Harrison Bader also knocked a bomb in the game, a two run dinger in the fourth to spread out the lead. Bader went 2 for-5 in the game. J.J. Schwarz continued his postseason success going 2 for-4 with a run scored. Freshman Mike Rivera did not play after suffering a minor injury Friday night.  O’Sullivan says that he should be okay and expects him to return soon.

The Gators added on a few late insurance runs before Kirby Snead gave up USF’s only runs in the eighth and ninth innings and Taylor Lewis came in with three outs left in the game to close things out.

Kevin O’Sullivan likes the way his team is playing.

“Multiple guys had multiple-hit nights. I thought that Buddy’s home run was really big for us to get on the board, and obviously,  Bader’s home run, I think we had two two-run homers. It was an all-around great game.”

O’Sullivan has not named a starter for Sunday’s game at 4 pm. He said he has even considered starting senior reliever Bobby Poyner. The Gators will face the winner of USF and FAU’s elimination game at 1 pm on Sunday.

field 1

Post game sound from the game:

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Florida Softball Gets Revenge Against LSU, Dominates The Tigers In WCWS

By on May 30th, 2015

Taylore Fuller is pumping up her teammates before the game

Taylore Fuller pumping up her teammates before the game

The LSU Tigers torched the Florida Gator softball team in early March for the series win in Gainesville. The Gators got them when it truly counted however in the Women’s College World Series on Friday with a 4-0 win. Freshman Nicole DeWitt admitted after the game that revenge was on the minds of the Gators.

“We just wanted to come out, play them, beat them, because we did lose to them twice in the first week of the season and we just had that revenge on them.”

When LSU came to Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium at the beginning of the SEC schedule, the Bayou Bengals posted 27 runs combined against all three Florida pitchers. Senior Lauren Haeger came out on Friday and continued her dominant postseason run. With the complete game shutout, it marks her sixth consecutive game that she has started, completed and won. Haeger eluded to DeWitt’s point that against LSU, there was some extra motivation.

“Of course we want to beat everyone we play. But again, us losing to them obviously gave us a little more fire but gave us a little bit more experience against them. So yeah, they’re a good team. We really wanted to beat them.”

Haeger unsurprisingly got the Florida offense started. With the score all tied up at zero and Nicole DeWitt on base, the National Player of the Year took it deep to left field for the two run bomb. The homer was her 70th of her career and already with 70 career wins in the circle, she created her own 70-70 club in softball. To take it even further, she and Babe Ruth are the only players in collegiate and professional baseball or softball to have such career numbers, according to ESPN Stats and Info. Haeger commented about being in the same conversation as Ruth.

“It’s hard because he’s got a lot more (home runs) than me and he’s Babe Ruth. But again if we’re the only two people to do it, that’s like amazing, and I’m just proud of myself, I guess. I means it’s really cool and something that I’ll remember forever.”

Haeger wasn’t the only Gator to go yard. The freshman DeWitt just barely got the ball over the fence in the sixth inning to extend the lead to 3-0. It was just her second home run of the season. DeWitt said after the game it was the biggest moment of her collegiate career.

“I was so excited, I just jumped and I was just clapping. It was so cool. And then looking at my team, they’re just waiting for me at home plate. It was just the greatest feeling I ever had.”

With the solo shot, Florida has gotten a home run from a freshman in back-to-back games. Kayli Kvistad hit a two run homer in the game against Tennessee. Head coach Tim Walton loves getting contributions from the younger players.

“It’s a proud moment. I think again just watching the young kids get up there and gain confidence and keep gaining it and gaining it, and I think Kayli talked about it yesterday, just learning from our players that have been there, done that. And we’re a program to keep building and keep getting better and we need those young kids to set the tone and to be the leaders maybe potentially next year.”

Kirsti Merritt added an insurance run in the seventh by scoring off a throwing error from LSU catcher Kellsi Kloss.

The Orange and Blue now have to wait until noon Sunday to take the field again. Tennessee and Auburn will face off Saturday and the winner will play UCLA later that night. Whoever wins that game will face the Gators.

For full audio clips of quotes above, click below:

DeWitt comments on the emotional high she got from the home run

Walton on the young freshmen stepping up in the WCWS

Haeger’s reaction to the Ruth comparison

Haeger was motivated to beat LSU

DeWitt and the Gators wanted to exact revenge

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UF Baseball Snaps Six Game NCAA Tournament Losing Streak Friday Night

By on May 30th, 2015

“It was just too much Florida.”

That’s what Florida A&M head coach Jamey Schouppe said after Friday night’s 19-0 loss to the Gators in the team’s NCAA Regional opener in Gainesville. Florida ends a six game NCAA Tournament slide thanks in part to 17 hits from 11 different Gator players.

Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan discussed how great this performance was after the game.

Kevin O'Sullivan Photo“This whole thing is about how you are feeling as a player and as a club. When you get more players feeling good about themselves, the club plays better. We came off a very difficult and intense SEC Tournament and I thought we did what we needed to do. For me, I judge how we play on three phases. The swings, we didn’t give away many at bats when the score got away toward the second half of the game. We played great defense, we got a chance to get everybody in the game to get some experience, and we had great pitching. From all three phases, we were good tonight.”

Florida’s ace Logan Shore was given mound rights on Friday night. Shore was solid in the game dealing five innings allowing just two hits from Florida A&M. After the game O’Sullivan said there is a possibility for Shore to pitch again in this regional if he is needed. He only threw 58 pitches in getting his eighth win this year.

SEC Tournament MVP JJ Schwarz continued his hot streak against the Rattlers delivering four huge hits with an even more impressive five RBI and his 15th homer this year. Schwarz said he has just been in a rhythm at the plate these last couple weeks. Schwarz was not alone on the RBI train. Harrison Bader who took on the leLogan Shore Photoad off slot in the Gator lineup had three RBI in the game. Bader seems to be out of his slump that he carried in to the SEC Tournament.

Bader had this to say about what the SEC Tournament meant to this team.

“I think it prepared us a lot. To do what we did at the SEC Tournament says a lot about our club, especially after losing the first game. We’re just looking forward to playing tomorrow.”

Earlier on Friday FAU was defeated by South Florida 4 to 3 and now the Gators will play the Bulls Saturday night.  A.J. Puk will throw for Florida against USF’s Ryan Valdes who has five wins this season. Puk has 40 strikeouts in his last four starts. Florida matched up against USF twice in the regular season beating them by a combined score of 18-4.

Live coverage of the game will be on Country 103-7 The Gator at 6:55 pm.

Sound from Friday night’s post game press conference:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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