Florida wins home finale

Junior ace Hannah Rogers (Lake Wales, Fla.) hurled a two-hit shutout, while freshman first baseman Taylor Schwarz (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) and sophomore designated player Lauren Haeger (Peoria, Ariz.) accounted for No. 2/3 Florida’s five runs in the rubber game between the Gators and the No. 23 Georgia Bulldogs in front of 1,725 Orange and Blue-clad fans Sunday.

UF’s 5-0 victory gave the Orange and Blue 17 shutouts on the year, Rogers’ eighth in the circle, and a seventh series win in Southeastern Conference play as the Gators improved to 47-6 overall, 16-5 through the league slate, having won all their conference series thus far. With the second and third games of the Tennessee | Arkansas series cancelled due to inclement weather in Knoxville Sunday, Tennessee (15-4, .789), Florida (16-5, .762) and LSU (15-6, .714) round out the top three institutions in the standings heading into the final regular-season weekend May 3-5, with both SEC Tournament seeding and the regular-season title up for grabs.

The No. 3/2 Lady Vols will visit No. 11 Missouri next weekend, the Gators face the Gamecocks on the road in Columbia and No. 12 LSU will head to Athens to finish up conference play at No. 23 Georgia.

The Gators blanked the Bulldogs Sunday for the first time since a March 11, 2009, doubleheader, when UF shut out UGA both games. After Georgia took a 3-2 win Friday to open the set, Florida battled back on Senior Day Saturday with a 5-2 win before Sunday’s 5-0 victory, as UF celebrated its two seniors, Ensley Gammel (Bakersfield, Calif.) and Kelsey Horton (Valrico, Fla.) in the Gators’ home finale this weekend.

The Orange and Blue improved to 11-4 (.733) against top-25 competition with the series clincher against the Dawgs as more UF records toppled at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium. Schwarz ripped UF’s school-record 18th triple of the year in the third, while classmate Kelsey Stewart (Wichita, Kan.) connected for a base hit in her career and team-best 11th straight game, now just two hits shy of tying Florida’s freshman single-season record 75.

Rogers improved to a staggering 26-4 in the circle, tops in the SEC, lowering her season ERA to 1.38 (1.60 SEC).

Haeger turned in a 3-for-3 performance in the series finale with Georgia, while Stewart was 1-for-4, Schwarz 1-for-3 and Horton1-for-2 with a walk to pace UF’s six-hit effort.

Schwarz first forced a UGA defensive error in the first that turned into two Gator runs before drilling a two-RBI triple down the right-field line for UF’s two third-inning runs. Haeger went yard in the fifth with a solo shot, accounting for UF’s fifth and final run of the day, as Florida scattered its scores in three different frames.

In the initial stanza, the Gators took advantage of a bases-loaded situation, while also capitalizing on a Georgia defensive miscue at third to plate its first two runs. Florida juiced the bags on a freshman Kirsti Merritt (Lake Panasoffkee, Fla.) one-out walk before Haeger sent a two-out infield single up the middle. Next up, Horton drew one of UF’s four walks for ducks on the pond to put the pressure on the UGA defense. A Schwarz grounder to third went under the defender’s glove and through her legs, allowing both Merritt and Haeger to scamper home for the 2-0 Gator lead.

After zeros on the board through the next inning and a half, Schwarz struck again in the bottom of the third for the Gators with a two-out two-RBI triple down the right-field line, her second three-bagger of the season, to give Florida a 4-0 advantage.

In the fifth, and facing a full count from Morgan Montemayor – on in relief of starter Chelsea Wilkinson in the circle for UGA – Haeger ripped her team-leading 16th bomb over the left-field fence for the Gators, extending UF’s lead, 5-0.

Rogers (7.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 7 BB, 3 K) settled in nicely as the contest went on, using two of her three strikeouts in the top of the sixth, while relying on her defense to go to work. Florida turned two double plays Sunday, three on the weekend. Georgia’s Tess Sito and Anna Swafford accounted for the Dawgs’ two hits on the afternoon, Swafford in the fourth and Sito in the fifth.

Wilkinson (3.0 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K) shouldered the loss (6-4), while Montemayor (3.0 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 0 K) finished out the game for the Bulldogs.

Gammel and Horton closed out their final regular season weekend at home with a career record of 200-42 (.826), including a 78-23 (.772) mark in SEC play. The duo has made two Women’s College World Series appearances and helped led Florida to the national runner-up spot in 2011 in Oklahoma City. Horton, a 2013 Senior CLASS Award Finalist and recipient of a $5K scholarship from the SEC as part of the Brad Davis Award for community service, and Gammel have both shined for the Gators on and off the field, in the classroom and in the community, embodying what it means to be both a student and athlete. Both Kelsey and Ensley are team captains this year.

Courtesy of UF Communications