Special to GC
Gainesville, Fla. – The No. 2-ranked University of Florida softball team defeated in-state opponent USF by a 7-0 score on Wednesday at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium. On a night when RBI leader Lauren Haeger was walked three times in four plate appearances, Taylore Fuller and Justine McLean provided all five Gator RBI.
Florida (41-4) took a 3-0 lead in the first inning. The frame started with a leadoff single from Kelsey Stewart, who stole second before an intentional walk to Haeger. Another free pass to Kayli Kvistad loaded the bases for Fuller, who smacked a two-run double down the left-field line to score Stewart and Haeger before Kvistad came home on McLean’s infield single.
Haeger drew another free pass in the third, and pitcher Aleshia Ocasio advanced on an illegal pitch as a pinch-runner. A Kvistad groundout sent Ocasio to third before Fuller walked and stole second, and then Ocasio scored on a throwing error by the Bulls catcher. McLean then beat out another infield base hit, causing a second miscue by USF (32-13) that allowed Fuller to score Florida’s fifth run. Ocasio finished her work in the circle after four innings, allowing three hits with no walks and five strikeouts.
The Gators extended their lead to 7-0 in the fourth. Stewart singled and DeWitt reached on a fielding error ahead of a third Haeger walk to load the bases again with two outs for Fuller, whose two-run single to left scored the lead runners. Gourley came in to pitch the final three innings, allowing just two walks and striking out six to notch her second save of the year.
STARS OF THE GAME
* Taylore Fuller: The junior had two hits that produced a total of four Gator runs, marking her eighth multi-hit game of the year.
* Justine McLean: Florida’s sophomore outfielder tied her career high with three hits and registered her fourth RBI of the year.
* Aleshia Ocasio: The first-year right-hander earned her 14th win of the season, lowering her ERA to 1.53 and raising her season strikeout total to 123.
* The Gators swept the season series from USF, running their record against the Bulls to 9-2 since 2012.
* Florida leads the all-time series 41-13, including a 20-8 margin in Gainesville.
* Fuller posted her sixth multi-RBI game of the season, including her fifth game with four or more RBI.
* The Trenton, Fla., native recorded her eighth game-winning RBI, tying Bailey Castro for the team lead.
* McLean notched her third multi-hit game of the season.
* Stewart’s first-inning single extended her hitting streak to 12 games dating back to the series finale at Alabama on March 23.
* Florida’s junior infielder had two hits on the night to notch her team-best 21st multi-hit game of the season.
* The All-American’s stolen base in the opening frame was the 92nd of her career, extending her school record.
* Haeger drew her 14th career intentional walk in the first, adding to her Gator benchmark.
* Gourley’s save raised her career total to four.
On Fuller and McLean hitting well behind Haeger:
“That’s why we’ve relied so heavily on Bailey [Castro]. She’s been hitting behind Lauren a lot this year, or Lauren has been hitting behind Bailey. We’ve put together a tough middle of the lineup where you get RBI hitters. Taylore Fuller is second on our team in RBI – she’s doing a great job. Wherever she’s at [in the lineup], I like our chances to get runners on base. She came through tonight, and it was nice to see her do that.”
On Gourley’s work in relief:
“That’s the goal, is to try to find a role for Delanie and get her on the right track. She came out and did another good job tonight [after] she did a good job against Kentucky this weekend. She’s out there changing speeds and making it tough on the opponents to get on base. I love it. The last four innings she’s pitched, she’s had eight strikeouts. I’ll take that, for sure.”
On the upcoming series at Georgia:
“We’ve got to watch video – we haven’t really watched any video with this long week. We’ll watch some video on [UGA pitcher Chelsea] Wilkinson and their team. We’ll watch them and see what they do. On paper, it looks like it’s going to be an uphill battle for us all weekend.”
- Florida Head Coach Tim Walton
FLORIDA PLAYER QUOTES
Junior UT Taylore Fuller
On her hitting approach tonight:
“Just keep it simple [and] don’t overthink everything, because if you do that, things will just get worse. I just have to stay out of my own head, trust myself and trust my coaches.”
On getting back on track at the plate after a mini-slump:
“I never lost confidence. I’ve felt good – it just hasn’t happened for me. I’ve been hitting the ball solid and it just hasn’t fallen in. Finally, I just got luck on my side.”
Sophomore LHP Delanie Gourley
On her mindset coming out of the bullpen:
“I just went out there with a clear head. I’ve been working really hard and getting more opportunities as they go. I just went out there and thought, ‘I’m just going to do my thing and do what I know how to do.’ ”
On earning a save with three scoreless innings:
“It was a confidence booster. Even though it was just a few innings, it was good to just be myself again and throw well.”
Sophomore OF Justine McLean
On her recent success at the plate:
“I think that lately I’ve been seeing the ball well, and Coach and I have been working on ball placement. The last few weeks, I had been seeing the ball really well but my swings had been off. I feel like today everything just came together for me.”
On Gourley’s work in the circle:
“Delanie’s a strikeout pitcher for sure, and I think that all of the things she’s been working on in the bullpen [are] really starting to pay off for her. Her confidence is back up, and I think that getting more opportunities to pitch in games will really help us.”