Special to GC
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The University of Florida softball team used one run in the first, two in the third, two in the fourth and two in the seventh to take the 2015 Women’s College World Series opener between the Gators (56-6) and Lady Vols (47-16), 7-2, in front of a large crowd at Oklahoma City’s ASA Hall of Fame Stadium.
After a quick first inning in the circle for the National Player of the Year Lauren Haeger (2-for-2), the senior extended her UF and Southeastern Conference-career home run record to 69 with a solo shot to left field in the bottom of the frame.
Florida’s lead remained at 1-0 until freshman Kayli Kvistad launched her sixth home run of the season into the right-center field seats in the third. The long ball was a two-run shot as Taylore Fuller worked a walk to set the table for the rookie.
However, Tennessee struck back in the top of the fourth with a two-run bomb by sophomore Megan Geer to cut the UF lead to 3-2. Those runs marked the first tally’s any team has scored on the Gators during this postseason.
Undaunted, UF answered with a pair of runs in the bottom of the frame to extend its lead back to three runs (5-2). Two singles, a hit-by-pitch and an errant throw from UT’s catcher on a stolen base attempt fueled the Gators two-out excursion.
The Gators tacked two more insurance runs in the seventh to bring us to our final score of 7-2.
In the circle for the Gators, Haeger (29-1) tossed a complete game, while striking out four and allowing just the two Volunteer runs. The Peoria, Ariz. product saw her consecutive scoreless innings streak snapped at 32.3 frames with that Volunteer long ball. During the streak, Haeger allowed just 10 hits, striking out 25 batters and walking just three.
STARS OF THE GAME
- Lauren Haeger: The right-hander allowed one hit over seven innings as she notched her 29th win of the season. In addition, she hit a solo homer in the bottom of the first inning.
- Kayli Kvistad: launched her sixth home run of the season into the right-center field seats in the third.
- Kelsey Stewart: The junior went 2-for-4 as she recorded her 13th multi-hit game in 25 career NCAA Touney contests.
- Florida is now 18-11 all-time at the WCWS.
- The Gators are now 65-32 all-time in the NCAA Tournament.
- During Tim Walton’s tenure as head coach, UF is 60-20 in NCAA play and 18-11 at the WCWS.
- The Gators are now 24-2 since April 1; the stretch includes 15 victories over ranked teams and 10 nonconference wins.
- In the bottom of the first inning, Haeger extended her UF and SEC-career home run record to 69. The long ball was her first-career at the WCWS.
- Lauren Haeger now has 70 career wins and 69 career home runs; she is the only player in Division I history to post 60+ in each category.
- Offensively, Haeger was 2-for-22 in her first six WCWS game, but her last three (Alabama series in 2014/today) she is 7-for-10 (w/HR). Overall, Haeger went 2-for-2 and now has three multi-hit games in her career at the WCWS.
- The Peoria, Ariz. native was intentionally walked for 18th time in her career in the bottom of the second inning, extending her own school record.
- Kelsey Stewart extended her current hitting streak to six games in the bottom of second with a single to center. She now has a 17-game NCAA Tournament hit streak dating back to last year.
- The junior has now recorded her 13th multi-hit game in 25 career NCAA Tourney contests.
- Kayli Kvistad’s third inning home run marked the second-straight year a UF freshman has homered in the Gators WCWS opener. Chelsea Herndon accomplished the feat last year with a walk off grand slam against Baylor.
With the win, Florida will play the winner of the Auburn/LSU game tomorrow at 7 p.m. ET. ESPN will televise the game. Florida Sports Talk will have the radio broadcast with Adam Schick (play-by-play) and former Gator All-American Megan Bush as the announce team. In addition, live stats will be available through Gametracker via the GatorZone.com schedule page.