Special to GC
Tuscaloosa, Ala. – The No. 3-ranked University of Florida softball team secured a series victory at Alabama on Monday, splitting two games with the fifth-ranked Crimson Tide. In the continuation of Game 2, which was suspended on Saturday night, Florida overcame a one-run deficit to earn a 4-1 win, while Tide took Game 3 by a 5-1 score.
Alabama held a 1-0 lead when Game 2 resumed with no outs in the top of the fifth; the Gators had Justine McLean on third base and Kelsey Stewart at the plate. The junior hit a sacrifice fly to left field, scoring the freshman to tie the game at one run apiece. Florida (30-3, 3-3 Southeastern Conference) then loaded the bases on a Kirsti Merritt single, a Lauren Haeger double and a walk to Kayli Kvistad.
Taylore Fuller was hit by a pitch to force in Merritt before a passed ball scored Haeger and allowed Kvistad and Fuller to move up one base. Nicole DeWitt capitalized on the opportunity with a sac fly to center, bringing home Kvistad to give Florida a 4-1 lead. The three-run cushion was enough for Aleshia Ocasio (10-2), who limited the Tide to just the one unearned run in Friday’s portion of the game, allowing four hits and two walks while striking out four to reach double-digit wins on the season.
Merritt doubled to lead off the second inning in Game 3, then advanced to third on a passed ball before coming home on a wild pitch for the first run of the contest. Alabama (22-7, 6-3 SEC) then took a 2-1 lead in the fifth on a two-run home run to right-center.
In the following inning, an RBI single and a two-run triple extended the Tide’s advantage to four runs, producing the final margin in the home team’s 5-1 win.
STAR OF THE GAMES
· Aleshia Ocasio: In the first SEC road start of her career, the freshman tamed the 2014 league champions and logged her seventh complete game in 10 starts this season.
· The Orange and Blue won a regular-season series (excluding single-game matchups) against the Tide for the first time since April 22-24, 2011, when Florida took two of three games in Gainesville.
· The Gators have won five of their last seven games against Alabama dating back to last season.
· Game 2 marked UF’s fourth comeback win of the season.
· Stewart had two hits in Game 2, extending her career-best hitting streak to 18 games before the string was snapped in Game 3.
· The junior has a team-best 13 multi-hit games this year.
· DeWitt’s RBI in Game 2 was her first since she tied her career high with three RBI vs. UC Davis on Feb. 28, a span of 10 games.
· Fuller’s bases-loaded hit-by-pitch in Game 2 marked her second game-winning RBI of the year (also: March 5 vs. San Jose State).
· Merritt’s double in Game 3 was her fourth in 16 games dating back to Feb. 25. She had two in the season’s first 16 games.
· The junior has six two-baggers this season, breaking a three-way tie for second on the team (Stewart, 12).
Florida will travel to Starkville, Miss., to face Mississippi State in a three-game series next weekend. The action begins Friday at 6:30 p.m. (all times Eastern). Live streaming will be available to subscribers on SEC Network+ via WatchESPN. WGGG (1230-AM) will have the radio broadcast with Corey Brooks and former Gator All-American Megan Bush on the call. In addition, live stats links can be found on the schedule page on GatorZone.com.