Special to GC
The seventh-ranked Gator Softball team defeated Arkansas, 8-3 on Friday (May 2) in Game 1 of the teams’ three-game series. Florida (43-10, 13-9 SEC) jumped out to a six-run lead against the Razorbacks (27-26, 5-17 SEC), providing more than enough support for senior Hannah Rogers (22-8), who allowed three runs (one earned) on three hits over seven innings, with three walks and a season-high 10 strikeouts.
Kelsey Stewart led off the game with an infield single, then advanced to second on a sacrifice by Kirsti Merrittand scored on a base hit up the middle from Stephanie Tofft. The senior was called out for interference onLauren Haeger’s fielder’s choice, and a foulout on the next play retired the Gators. Rogers set the Razorbacks down in order in the bottom of the inning, including two strikeouts.
Bailey Castro started the second inning with a home run to left-center to increase the Florida lead to 2-0. Following a popout, Taylore Fuller homered to left-center to give the Orange and Blue another run. Arkansas went down in order again in the home half of the frame, as Rogers fanned the first two batters and got the third out on a popup.
Tofft singled to shortstop to begin the third, and Haeger reached on a throwing error by the Arkansas third baseman. Briana Little followed with a three-run home run down the left-field line, extending the Gator lead to 6-0. The Razorbacks had their first baserunners of the game in the bottom of the inning on a fielding error and a hit-by-pitch, and Arkansas scored its first runs of the game on a two-run triple to right-center.
Florida took a 6-2 lead into the fourth inning. The Gators drew two walks in the visiting half, but both runners were stranded. Arkansas had two baserunners in the bottom half on a leadoff walk and a two-out error, but Rogers left both on base with a strikeout to end the inning.
Taylor Schwarz hit a one-out single in the fifth, and Fuller was hit by a pitch on the next at-bat. Stewart and Merritt brought the runners home with two-out RBI singles to make the score 8-2 in favor of Florida. Arkansas loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the inning, and one run came home on a sacrifice fly. Following a flyout and a single, Castro cut down the runner from second to end the inning and limit the Razorbacks to one run in the fifth.
The Gators loaded the bases with one out in the sixth, but were retired on a popout and a strikeout. Rogers set down the home team in order in the bottom of the frame. Tofft was stranded after she drew a two-out walk in the seventh, and the Orange and Blue secured the victory in the bottom of the frame with two strikeouts sandwiched around a flyout.