UF softball falls short at ‘Bama

The sour stench of a Southeastern Conference series loss will stay with Florida for a week in Tuscaloosa until the Gators suit up for the conference tournament.

Florida opened up Sunday afternoon with an opportunity to clinch the road weekend series vs. the Crimson Tide and earn a regular season SEC title, but any championship chance disappeared with a 5-3 loss at Rhoads Stadium.

After a scoreless top half of the first for the Florida offense, sophomore Hannah Rogers (26-6, 1.26) started in the circle for the No. 6 Florida Gators (44-10, 21-7), but couldn’t register an out after facing four batters.

Rogers allowed two straight hits and hit Alabama third hitter Amanda Locke to load the bases for shortstop Kaila Hunt who gave the Crimson Tide an early lead with a two run double down the left field line.

The right-hander faced an Alabama lineup, which leads the nation with 86 home runs, for the third game in a row.

Both teams entered the series with a combined 45-0 record when plating a run in the first inning.

No. 3 Alabama (47-6, 23-5) made sure the trend continued.

Freshman Lauren Haeger replaced Rogers and didn’t register an out until three batters, two hits and two runs later.

Once the opening frame ended, the Crimson Tide led by four, which put Alabama well on its way to its first win vs. Florida in six tries.

Locke added a sacrifice fly in the second for the fifth Alabama run.

Sophomore All-American Jackie Traina (31-2, 1.78) tossed a quick three scoreless innings for the Crimson Tide.

Back-to-back home runs by Haeger and Kelsey Horton in the fourth brought home three Florida runs.

Haeger, batting cleanup, smacked a two-run homer to score Michelle Moultrie.

Both players drilled outside fastballs from Traina whose mid-60s velocity carried the balls over the right field fence.

Traina finished off the Gators with three more scoreless frames for her 25th complete game this season.

Haeger allowed one earned one over six innings. Alabama tagged Rogers for four earned runs.

Sunday marked the shortest outing in two years for Rogers.

Florida stays in Tuscaloosa for the single-elimination SEC Tournament where the Gators hold the No. 3 seed and play the No. 6 LSU Tigers 12 p.m. ET in the first game of the tournament. ESPNU will televise the game.

With the Florida loss, Tennessee wins the Eastern Division and earns the No. 2 seed. The Gators drop two straight against the Crimson Tide and have lost 5 of 7 heading into the conference tournament.