Florida softball sweeps Arkansas

Senior right fielder Kelsey Horton (Valrico, Fla.) laced a two-out homer to left field with two strikes against her in the bottom of the seventh to walk No. 3 Florida softball off with a 1-0 victory over the Razorbacks Saturday evening, completing the Gators’ series sweep over Arkansas at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium.

Florida improved to 31-3 overall on the year, 7-2 in Southeastern Conference play, with its first series sweep of the conference season, third series win of the year. Arkansas moved to 21-13 on the year, 0-6 in conference play.

Junior ace Hannah Rogers (Lake Wales, Fla.) tossed a three-hit shutout – UF’s 13th shutout of the year – with six strikeouts in the pitcher’s duel with Razorback hurler Chelsea Cohen, who also went the distance, allowed five Gator hits, walked seven and had four strikeouts on the night. Rogers chalked up her 17th win of the season (17-2) with Horton’s seventh-inning heroics, UF’s fourth walk-off of the season and Horton’s fourth game-winning RBI of the season – her second of the series after knocking the winning two-RBI double in the bottom of the third in the nightcap Friday.

Rogers finished the weekend with 19 strikeouts and two victories, allowed just eight hits in three appearances, walked just two and gave up no runs through the three-game series with Arkansas.

Florida’s seven walks in game two Friday and seven Saturday night tied for its second-most in league play to the Gators’ eight BBs against Auburn March 8.

Horton hit .500 through the series (3-for-6) with two doubles and Saturday’s game-winning blast – her fourth of the season, knocking in a team-tying three RBI through the weekend. Freshman second baseman Kelsey Stewart (Wichita, Kan.) wasn’t far behind with a .455 clip (5-for-11), including her school-record sixth triple of the season in the bottom of the third Saturday. Stewart surpassed six former Gators, who all knocked five in a season, to take sole possession of the single-season record.

Stewart was 2-for-3 at the plate Saturday with one walk, while Horton, senior Ensley Gammel (Bakersfield, Calif.) and freshman Taylor Schwarz (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) all connected for base hits against the Razorbacks in the series finale.

Arkansas connected for a base hit each in the first, third and fifth, but Rogers and the UF defense did work to limit the Razorbacks’ scoring opportunities. Rogers forced three up, three down in the second, fourth and seventh innings, and faced just four batters in the first and third to strand the two base runners in each frame on.

After a leadoff double in the fifth for the Razorbacks, followed by a sac bunt to move Sierra Bronkey to third, Rogers forced a pop up and fly out to end the top half of the inning and keep the game scoreless.

Florida had its best chance to score early in the bottom of the third after Stewart’s leadoff triple, followed by a freshman Kirsti Merritt (Lake Panasoffkee, Fla.) walk and stolen base before Horton drew her one walk of the game, a two-out base on balls to load ‘em up. Cohen forced a ground out to halt the Gator threat.

After a foul out and pop up to the Gators’ first two batters in the bottom of the seventh, Horton stepped in with two down and the game scoreless, watched a ball, fouled one off and took a Cohen strike before sending the 1-2 offering right off the bat and over the left-field fence to wrap up the series, and game, with one swing.

Stephanie Canfield, Bronkey and Jayme Gee connected for Arkansas’ three hits on the night.

Courtesy of UF Communications