Special to GC
The No. 5/7 Gator Softball team defeated No. 21/22 Texas A&M, 5-1, on Friday night (April 18) at the Aggie Softball Complex in the opener of the teams’ three-game series. Florida (38-8, 9-7 SEC) scored two runs in the first inning and three in the fifth, holding the Aggies (29-15, 9-10 SEC) to a single run in the third. UF seniorHannah Rogers (Lake Wales, Fla.) improved to 19-6 on the season after she allowed one earned run on seven hits over seven innings, with two walks and three strikeouts.
Florida opened the scoring in the top of the first when Kirsti Merritt (Lake Panasoffkee, Fla.) walked to set up a two-run home run from Stephanie Tofft (Lincoln, Calif.). The Gators retired Texas A&M in order in the bottom of the frame; the Aggies’ third batter reached on an error, but Taylor Schwarz (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) threw her out when she tried to advance to second.
The Orange and Blue had two runners in scoring position in the second when Aubree Munro (Brea, Calif.) hit a one-out single and Kelsey Stewart (Wichita, Kan.) followed two batters later with a double to left, but both were stranded. Texas A&M loaded the bases with two outs against Rogers, but the senior forced a flyout to right to end the threat.
Tofft drew a leadoff walk in the third, but she was left at first. The Aggies cut the Florida lead to 2-1 in the bottom of the inning on a run-scoring double to left. Schwarz singled to lead off the fourth and Stewart was hit by a pitch with two outs, but neither was able to score. Rogers set down Texas A&M in order in the bottom of the inning.
Florida loaded the bases with two singles and a walk to start the fifth inning. Briana Little (Middleburg, Fla.) extended the UF lead to three with a two-run double to right, plating Tofft and pinch-runner Jessica Damico(Gray Summit, Mo.), who entered in place of Lauren Haeger (Peoria, Ariz.). Bailey Castro (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) walked ahead of Little and scored when Schwarz reached on an error by the Aggie pitcher.
Texas A&M got a leadoff single in the bottom of the fifth, but Rogers induced a double play and a fielded a comebacker to retire the side. Stewart led off the sixth with a bunt single before the Gators hit into three straight fielder’s choices. The Aggies got a baserunner in the bottom of the inning on a Florida fielding error, but the runner was thrown out on a fielder’s choice to end the inning.
Florida had two walks and a fielder’s choice in the seventh, but two runners were thrown out on the base paths and one was stranded. Texas A&M loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the inning to put the potential tying run at the plate, but Rogers induced a groundball to shortstop and the Gator defense turned a 6-4-3 double play to end the game and secure the win.