Lauren Haeger connects with a pitch and takes it deep to left field
The Florida Gator softball team faced off against the Tennessee Volunteers in the first game of the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City. The Gators exacted revenge against the team that knocked them out of the SEC Tournament earlier this month, winning 7-2 on Thursday. Florida coach Tim Walton definitely thinks his team was better prepared for the Vols this time around.
“This time I felt like our team did a much better job of knowing who we were playing, knowing the pitches they’re doing. We made some significant adjustments at the plate and I thought that really helped us out.”
To no one’s surprise, Lauren Haeger led the way for the Gators in the circle and in the batter’s box. The National Softball Player of the Year pitched a complete game, only allowing one hit and striking out four. That one hit though was a two-run home run from the bat of Megan Geer, the only offense the Volunteers were able to produce all game. Haeger says she was able to calm her nerves.
“I just had to buckle down. I only gave up one hit. If you leave a ball up here in the College World Series you can be taken out of the yard against good teams like this. I was just trying to buckle down and get the next girl out.”
Haeger belted a home run of her own in the bottom of the first to get the Gator offense going. Haeger says home runs will come with good plate approaches.
“I can’t ever go out there and try to hit a home run. My home runs will come with good at-bats and good swings at good pitches. I was just going up there looking for a good pitch to hit with two outs. I did a great job with battling a few off there and got a good pitch to hit and it was really exciting.”
Freshman Kayli Kvistad added run support for Haeger in the bottom of the third with a two-run home run to right-center field. The Gators added two runs in the fourth and sixth innings due to walks, hit-by-pitches and errors by Tennessee. Vols’ pitcher Erin Gabriel, who defeated the Gators in the SEC Tournament, struggled in the circle. She only pitched two innings, walked three and conceded Kvistad’s home run.
The Gators will be back on the field Friday night against the LSU Tigers. The Tigers defeated Auburn right after the Florida-Tennessee game, 6-1. The Bayou Bengals got the series win against the Gators at the beginning of the SEC schedule in Gainesville.
When LSU won two out of three games in Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium in March, they did it with their offensive firepower. After the Gators won the first game 4-3, the Tigers outscored Florida in the next two games 24-13. LSU’s Bianka Bell had eight RBIs in the series.
First pitch will be at 7 p.m.
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