Special to GC
Gainesville, Fla. - The No. 3-ranked University of Florida softball team defeated in-state rival UNF by a 2-1 score in eight innings on Wednesday night at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium. A walkoff double by freshman Janell Wheaton sealed the victory for the Gators as senior right-hander Lauren Haeger earned the win on the night she was drafted by the Dallas Charge<http://www.gatorzone.com/story.php?id=30290> of National Pro Fastpitch. The teams traded zeros for the first three innings before the Gators manufactured a run with two outs in the fourth. Kelsey Stewart started the rally with a single to right field before Nicole DeWitt was hit by a pitch. The two baserunners executed a double steal to set up Kirsti Merritt's RBI single to shortstop that gave UF a 1-0 lead. Haeger and Delanie Gourley pitched a combined perfect game for 6.1 innings before the Ospreys tied the game with a solo home run to right field. Haeger re-entered following the homer, pitching 1.2 more perfect frames. Once the game went into extra innings, Taylore Fuller beat out an infield single to lead off the bottom of the eighth. The junior advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Aubree Munro before Wheaton pinch-hit for Justine McLean and drove a 2-1 pitch to right-center for the game-winning double. STARS OF THE GAME * Janell Wheaton: The freshman's game-winning pinch-hit double was her sixth two-base hit of the year. * Lauren Haeger: The senior improved to 15-0 on the year with 6.2 perfect innings while tying her career high with 11 strikeouts. * Kirsti Merritt: The junior's infield hit in the fourth plated Florida's first run. NOTABLES * Wheaton recorded the first game-winning RBI of her career. * The freshman has six doubles on the season, which is tied with Merritt for second on the team (Stewart - 12). * Haeger allowed no hits in an outing of 5.0+ innings (or 3.0+ for a five-inning win) for the second time this year (also: 2/6 vs. Hampton). * The only other qualifying no-hit outing of Haeger's career was her no-hitter against Wisconsin on Feb. 9 of last year. * Wednesday's game marked Florida's 200th all-time contest against in-state opponents. The Gators now are 157-43 (.785) versus Sunshine State foes. * UF is 15-1 against teams from the state of Florida since the start of the 2014 season. * The Orange and Blue now lead the all-time series against UNF, 6-0. * UF now is 28-0 in nonconference games in 2015. Florida has won 34 consecutive games against non-SEC foes dating back to last season. WALTON'S WORDS On Wheaton's walkoff double: "It was cool. I actually brought out a water bottle and gave her a shower to celebrate that. I don't know if the other players didn't recognize how important that was for a young kid to go up there and get a hit like that. It was great. I've been working hard to find a role for Janell, because she's such a good player and she has such a bright future for us. It was a special hit. That was cool." On the upcoming series against South Carolina: "They're all tough for us. We don't overlook anybody, and nobody overlooks us. It's about us coming in and doing a good job preparing for what we do. We want to come out and play good defense, pitch the ball well and keep the ball in the ballpark. I'd like to see us be fun to watch on the bases and get some good hits with runners in scoring position." - Florida Head Coach Tim Walton FLORIDA PLAYER QUOTES Senior RHP/1B Lauren Haeger On her work in the circle tonight: "I think I was just hitting my spots. I didn't leave any balls over the plate, I was hitting my corners [and] I went up and in. I think I was just hitting my spots really well." On the pitching of UNF's Kaylie Wallace: "I think she hit her spots really well. She was [hitting] all corners and changing speeds. I think we hit her when she came across the plate, but other than that I think she hit her spots." On her reaction to being drafted by the Dallas Charge: "I'm excited. That's where I wanted to go and I think it's going to be a great, fun experience. Just to experience it once, it'll be fun." On playing against former teammate Hannah Rogers in National Pro Fastpitch: "I love Hannah. We're going to play a lot against each other, so we'll see each other a lot. She's already come up here, and we've talked about how we'll see each other and get to hang out. It would have been fun either way." Freshman C/1B Janell Wheaton On her walkoff double: "It was awesome. Coach Walton just told me to do what I do, we've worked a lot at practice the past two days with just hitting and I trusted myself. I looked for my pitch and I got it. I felt really comfortable and I just wanted to win it for my team." On displaying her versatility by contributing as a pinch-hitter: "That's kind of been my role for this season. If I'm not starting I've been coming off the bench. I've become more comfortable coming off the bench." UP NEXT The Gators will host South Carolina this weekend for their fourth series of Southeastern Conference play. The three-game set begins Friday at 6 p.m. EDT. Live streaming will be available through participating TV providers on SEC Network+<http://secsports.go.com/watch> via WatchESPN, while WGGG (1230-AM)<http://www.floridasportstalk.fm/> will have the radio broadcast. In addition, a live stats link can be found on the schedule page<http://www.gatorzone.com/schedule.php?sport=softb> on GatorZone.com.