Special to GC
Gainesville, Fla. – The No. 1-seeded University of Florida softball team advanced to the Super Regional round of the NCAA Tournament with a 1-0 (eight innings) victory over Florida Atlantic in the final of the Gainesville Regional. The Gators (53-6) outhit the Owls 4-2 as senior Lauren Haeger (26-1) pitched a two-hit shutout and allowed just two second-inning singles, while walking two batters and striking out five.
Haeger and FAU pitcher Amanda Wilson (8-5) traded zeros for seven innings until Haeger herself broke through for Florida (53-6) in the eighth for the game’s only run. The senior lined a double to right-center and Kirsti Merritt raced home from first after reaching on a fielder’s choice.
STARS OF THE GAME
- Lauren Haeger: The right-hander allowed five hits over 15 shutout innings with 13 strikeouts to earn two wins during the Regional.
- Kirsti Merritt: Florida’s second-leading scorer with 45 runs on the year, the Lake Panasoffkee, Fla., native scored the only run of the game.
- Nicole DeWitt: The freshman led the Gators with a .556 (5×9) batting average and a .636 on-base percentage on the weekend, and was one of two UF players to score twice (Merritt – 3).
- Florida advanced to a Super Regional for eighth time in nine seasons.
- The Gators have thrown seven consecutive shutouts in NCAA Regionals dating back to May 19, 2013.
- The Orange and Blue have held Regional opponents scoreless for 51 consecutive innings dating back to Game 2 of the 2013 Regional against USF.
- This is the third time the Gators have thrown three straight shutouts in a Regional (also: 2007, 2014).
- Since 2014, the Gators have recorded 11 postseason shutouts (2014 Regional – 3, 2014 Super Regional – 2, 2014 WCWS – 3, 2015 Regional – 3).
- Haeger has thrown three of those 11 shutouts, including both Regional finals.
- UF is now 2-1 in extra innings this season.
- Kelsey Stewart and DeWitt tied for team lead with 5 hits during the Regional.
- Haeger had three RBI during the Regional, tying her with Stewart for second on the team (Fuller – 4).
- Florida hurlers allowed just six hits over 22.0 innings with 30 strikeouts in the Regional, including a school-record-tying 17 from Aleshia Ocasio on Friday against Florida A&M.
- Sunday marked the first time this season a Gator pitcher worked more than 7.0 innings (last: Hannah Rogers, 8.0, 4/6/14 vs. Auburn).
Florida will host Kentucky in a Super Regional next weekend. Dates, times and television information are to be determined. Florida Sports Talk will have the radio broadcast with Adam Schick (play-by-play) and former Gator All-American Megan Bush (analysis) as the announce team. In addition, live stats will be available through GameTracker on the schedule page of GatorZone.com.