Special to GC
Gainesville, Fla. - The University of Florida softball team dropped a 10-3 decision on Sunday to Southeastern Conference rival LSU. Florida gained an early advantage on a three-run home run from Kirsti Merritt in the third inning, but the Tigers answered with 10 runs over the final three frames to win the game and take the three-game series. In the third, a leadoff single by Janell Wheaton and a two-out walk to Kelsey Stewart set the table for Merritt. The junior launched a three-run home run to center field to put the Gators ahead 3-0. A two-run single for LSU cut the Florida lead to 3-2 in the fifth. In the following inning, the Tigers scored a run on a fielder's choice to tie the game before a three-run home run put LSU ahead 6-3. The visitors extended their lead in the seventh with a pair of RBI singles and a two-run double down the left-field line, producing the final margin. STAR OF THE GAME * Kirsti Merritt: The junior's three-run home run in the third inning provided all the offense for Florida. NOTABLES * LSU now leads the all-time series with Florida 32-23. * Merritt's three-run home run was her first in six career games against LSU. * The three-run shot was the fourth in 10 games since Feb. 28 for the center fielder; Merritt had gone 15 games without a homer before that stretch. * Stewart's fifth-inning single extended her career-best hitting streak to 16 games dating back to Feb. 22. WALTON'S WORDS On what Florida learned from the series against LSU: "We've got a lot to improve on. I thought we came out and responded well after yesterday, but we've got a lot of work to do." On if not having a midweek game will affect Florida before the series at Alabama next weekend: "I don't know. I kind of go back and forth. I don't know if there is such a thing as a good point [for a midweek break]. If we're tired, then it's great. If we need to play again right away, then it's bad. It's a toss-up." - Florida Head Coach Tim Walton FLORIDA PLAYER QUOTES Senior RHP/1B Lauren Haeger On the takeaway after the LSU series: "We need to play better. We need to execute better. We need to have better approaches at bat. [LSU] outplayed us and they're a great team, and we can't get outplayed against teams in the SEC." On pitching to LSU shortstop Bianka Bell: "I got her out yesterday. I felt really confident when she came in there [today], actually. She's a great hitter. Any hitter would have done the same thing, but I made a mistake, so good job to her." Junior CF Kirsti Merritt On her home run: "It was like any other at-bat - I just needed to calm my nerves down a little bit. The first at-bat, I wasn't seeing it very well and my heartbeat was a little high, so I just had to slow it down. I had to hit [well] behind Kelsey Stewart because she's a great hitter, so I have to back her up a little bit being behind her." On LSU pitcher Kelsee Selman: "She just pitched a great game. She was hitting her spots. She was getting us to chase a little bit, which we knew she was going to try to do. She just executed very well." On adjustments Florida will need to make: "We'll be able to make our adjustments. We're going to [do] things that we weren't able to do well this weekend. We'll come out and we'll adjust, and we'll get it back." UP NEXT The Gators will travel to Alabama next weekend for a three-game series against the Crimson Tide. The action begins Saturday at 2 p.m. EDT with the series opener, televised by ESPNU. WGGG (1230-AM)<http://www.floridasportstalk.fm/> will have the radio broadcast with Corey Brooks and Megan Bush as the broadcast team. In addition, a live stats link can be found on the schedule page<http://www.gatorzone.com/schedule.php?sport=softb> on GatorZone.com.