Special to GC
The No. 6/7 Gator Softball team defeated No. 19 Auburn on Saturday (April 5) at Katie Seashole Pressly Softball Stadium. Florida’s offense produced three home runs, and the Orange and Blue scored seven or more runs for the fifth time in SEC play to support Lauren Haeger (Peoria, Ariz.), who improved to 7-1 in relief of Delanie Gourley (Lakeside, Calif.). Senior Hannah Rogers (Lake Wales, Fla.) pitched the seventh inning to earn the save for the Gators (33-8, 7-7 SEC).
Auburn (31-8-1, 6-5 SEC) loaded the bases with no outs in the first, but Gourley retired three straight batters to get out of the jam. In the bottom of the frame, the Tigers hit Chelsea Herndon (Carrollton, Texas) with a pitch and walked Haeger before Stephanie Tofft (Lincoln, Calif.) slugged a three-run home run to right field that gave Florida a 3-0 lead.
Gourley issued a two-out walk in the second, but induced a fielder’s choice to retire the Tigers. Taylore Fuller(Trenton, Fla.) walked to lead off the bottom of the inning, and then advanced to third on two wild pitches before coming home on an RBI double by Kelsey Stewart (Wichita, Kan.).
Auburn tied the game at four with a pair of two-run home runs to center field in the third inning before Kirsti Merritt (Lake Panasoffkee, Fla.) put the Gators back in front with a solo homer off the flagpole beyond the center-field wall to start the bottom of the frame. Haeger replaced Gourley in the circle for the fourth inning.
A leadoff walk proved costly for Florida as Auburn tied the game at 5-5 in the fourth. Aubree Munro (Brea, Calif.) walked to lead off the bottom of the frame, but she was stranded at second. Haeger set the Tigers down in order before the Gators offense produced two runs in the fifth. Merritt put the Gators ahead with her second home run of the game to lead off the inning, followed by a single from Haeger and an RBI base hit up the middle by Taylor Schwarz (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) that scored pinch-runner Jessica Damico (Gray Summit, Mo.).
Haeger hit one batter and walked another with two down in the sixth, but got out of the inning with a foul out. Pinch-hitter Justine McLean (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) drew a two-out walk in the bottom of the frame, but she was stranded. Rogers entered to close out the game for the Gators, limiting Auburn to one run an RBI single to save the win for Haeger and secure the series victory for Florida.