Fried dough with icing topping was on the mind of Gators’ pitcher freshman Alyssa Bache after she pitched four perfect innings in her first start of the season. It’s a tradition among Florida pitchers to get donuts after a shutout.
UF coach Tim Walton said the donut symbolizes a “0” on the scoreboard. Bache was close to getting her donut until the fifth inning when she stumbled a little bit. She ended her perfect game by hitting a Michigan State batter and allowing two hits after that.
Two outs later, Bache had led her No.1 team to an 11-1 mercy-rule victory over the Michigan State Spartans in front of 1,278 fans.
“I was actually really excited,” Bache said. “I didn’t feel nervous. I loved the crowd. It made me feel good to see so many people show up. The team was awesome.”
Walton commended Bache on her performance on Saturday. He said he plays the girls who earned the position, and Bache certainly earned her start.
“I thought Alyssa did well,” Walton said. “I thought she really handled the pressure of her first start and first home start. I thought she did a great job. She’s very poised. It looked like her pitches were breaking pretty good. And even her rise ball, her rise ball was enticing enough to swing at but high enough to get swing and misses on so she did a good job.”
Junior catcher Brittany Schutte weighed in on Bache’s pitching debut as well and said Bache’s ability to move the ball will take her a long way.
“I think when you come to college if your ball moves more, then that’s when you’re going to have total success,” Schutte said. “It doesn’t matter if you throw really hard, but if your ball moves you’re going to be really successful.”
Bache started off with a perfect first inning. It was the Gators’ turn to bat, and they exploded for four runs. Freshman Sami Fagan led off with a single ground hit to center field and later stole second base. Freshman Lauren Haeger singled to center field that brought in Fagan for the first run of the game.
Schutte then singled down the first base line. After sophomore Cheyenne Coyle walked, junior Kelsey Horton hit a sacrifice fly to center that brought in Haeger. Behind Horton, junior Ensley Gammel stepped up and slammed the ball to left field, accounting for two more runs for the Gators.
Following a quick top-of-the-second inning, the Gators added two more runs to their lead. Freshman Jessica Damico and Sami Fagan scored runs after solid hits from Moultrie and Schutte.
After a scoreless third inning, the Gators got another boost of momentum when they began a second scoring surge that put up five more runs. Moultrie was up to bat first and hit a single that resulted in a double because of a first-baseman error.
The next two up seemed like déjà vu from Friday’s game when Haeger and Schutte smashed back-to-back home runs. Haeger brought in Moultrie with her homer and, combined with Schutte’s, added three runs for the Gators.
“I think Lauren [Haeger] had a really good at bat with a runner on second base and nobody out,” Walton said. “We work on that situation all the time, either scoring the runner or at least moving the runner over in that situation to put four or five hitters up there with a runner on third base on less than two outs.”
The Gators played off the excitement of two home runs and continued to score at will in the bottom of the fourth. Horton and freshman Briana Little were driven in by Damico and sophomore Kasey Fagan.
After a little struggle in the top fifth inning and Michigan’s first run of the series, the Gators wrapped up the 700th win for the softballl program. Walton attributed the success of the program to all the players and staff who made Gators softball the top-ranked team in the nation.
“We won a lot of ball games here the last few years,” Walton said. “So it’s nice to be able to have a lot of players share in a lot of victories. It’s a good feeling for a program to have so many people who play in it and who contribute to building the program from the ground up. We got 700 fairly quickly, so it’s a nice accomplishment.”
At the end of the day, the Gators’ goal is to outscore opponents. It makes their job easier when the other team doesn’t put any runs up. So, the deal is donuts for shutouts, and that’s OK by Walton.
“They can throw a shut out every game of the season and have donuts all year long, I don’t care,” he said.
Gator Country reporter Darby Underwood can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow her on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/DarbyUnderwood.