Special to GC
Tuscaloosa, Ala. - The No. 3-ranked University of Florida softball team defeated No. 5 Alabama, 1-0, on Saturday in Game 1 of a scheduled doubleheader at Rhoads Stadium. Game 2 of the three-game series was halted amidst steady rainfall, and the teams will finish the contest on Monday afternoon before playing Game 3. A masterful pitching performance from senior Lauren Haeger<http://www.gatorzone.com/softball/bios.php?year=2015&player_id=57> keyed Florida's win in the opener, complemented by timely hitting and smart baserunning. Game 1 was scoreless for five innings as the Tide had four hits to the Gators' three. Alabama threatened to score in the fifth with a leadoff single up the middle and a two-out double down the left-field line, but Briana Little<http://www.gatorzone.com/softball/bios.php?year=2015&player_id=58> combined with Kathlyn Medina<http://www.gatorzone.com/softball/bios.php?year=2015&player_id=59> and Aubree Munro<http://www.gatorzone.com/softball/bios.php?year=2015&player_id=60> on a relay to throw out the runner at the plate. Kayli Kvistad<http://www.gatorzone.com/softball/bios.php?year=2015&player_id=73> singled to left with one out in the sixth, advancing to third on a wild pitch and a single up the middle by pinch-hitter Nicole DeWitt<http://www.gatorzone.com/softball/bios.php?year=2015&player_id=72>. A fielding error on the play allowed Kvistad to come home with the game's only run, as Haeger allowed four hits and one walk with two strikeouts to finish her fifth shutout of the season. Both teams left runners on base to start Game 2, with the Gators throwing out another Tide runner at home to keep Alabama off the scoreboard. The home team scored the game's first run in the second inning when the leadoff batter singled and advanced to second on a groundout before stealing third and coming home on a Florida throwing error. Justine McLean<http://www.gatorzone.com/softball/bios.php?year=2015&player_id=70> doubled down the left-field line to lead off the fifth inning and advanced to third on a wild pitch. With no outs and Kelsey Stewart<http://www.gatorzone.com/softball/bios.php?year=2015&player_id=61> at the plate, the game was suspended due to rain. The teams will resume Game 2 of the series at 4:30 p.m. EDT on Monday. STAR OF THE GAME * Lauren Haeger: The senior blanked the Tide in Game 1 to improve to 13-0 on the season. The outing marked her first complete game in three career starts against Alabama. NOTABLES * The series opener marked the second shutout victory ever for the Gators in Tuscaloosa (also: April 12, 1997 - 2-0). * The first game of the day was Florida's fourth blanking of the Tide all-time (last: June 2, 2014 - 5-0 - Game 1 of WCWS championship series). * Game 1 represented the first time Alabama was shut out at home since May 3, 2013, vs. Kentucky. * The twinbill's first game represented Florida's second shutout of the Tide in three meetings, following a 5-0 win in Game 1 of the Women's College World Series finals on June 2, 2014. * The opener was Haeger's first win of the season against a ranked opponent. * The Peoria, Ariz., native owns 11 victories over ranked teams in her career. * Kirsti Merritt<http://www.gatorzone.com/softball/bios.php?year=2015&player_id=64> was hit by three pitches on the day (including the suspended Game 2), giving her 23 for the season and 45 for her career. Both marks are school records. UP NEXT The Florida-Alabama series concludes Monday. Game 2 will resume at 4:30 p.m. (all times Eastern), with the series finale to follow at 7 p.m. EDT. Broadcast information for the continuation of the second game is to be determined. The SEC Network will carry Game 3 on television with Mark Neely and former Texas A&M All-American Amanda Scarborough on the call. WGGG (1230-AM)<http://www.floridasportstalk.fm/> will have the radio broadcast of both games with Corey Brooks and former Gator All-American Megan Bush as the broadcast team. In addition, live stats links can be found on the schedule page<http://www.gatorzone.com/schedule.php?sport=softb> on GatorZone.com.