The winner’s bracket matched Florida up with USF in game three of the Gainesville regional. Florida had revenge on their mind after being eliminated by USF in the 2012 Gainesville Regional.
Another sweltering hot day didn’t stop Gator fans from packing the park to cheer on the team. Florida had some heat of their own today, as they blasted their way to an 11-1 win to advance to Sunday’s championship match up.
All the talk coming into the game surrounded USF pitcher Sarah Nevins with her 26-7 record and staggering .93 ERA. Thought, someone forgot to inform the Lady Gators of her stellar season.
USF starter Sarah Nevins worked herself into a quick hole in the bottom of the first. Florida managed to get two on and gave Lauren Haeger a chance to make a play with just one out. Haeger fouled a painful ball off her shin and worked through a tough at bat before blasting a ball over the left field wall to give the Lady Gators a 3-1 lead early on after one inning.
Haeger was elated when talking about the grueling at bat afterwards, “I was just fighting, 3-2, I knew they weren’t trying to walk me. They were just coming right at me and she threw a curve ball in and I just got my timing just right.”
Her coach, Tim Walton, knew how important the at bat was for his team, “For Lauren to get us going with that three run homer, that changed all the momentum we could of potentially had or lost having runners on base…it was a huge, huge at bat for us.”
Taylore Fuller continued her hot streak and nailed her second homer in as many games with a solo shot over the left field wall to bump it up to 4-1 Florida. Fuller seems to really be coming into her own at the plate, two of her four home runs on the year have come here in regional action.”I’ve been seeing the ball really well,” Fuller said about her recent streak. “My timing is finally coming together for me. Just to be able to produce for my team finally feels really good.”
Starter Sarah Nevins simply couldn’t get anything to work against the Gators today, as she allowed two home runs after only allowing four all year long up to this point. The poor start seemed to rattle Nevins, she was pulled in the bottom half of the second after allowing seven runs in less then two innings of work.
The pitching change gave Lauren Haeger a chance to make USF pay once more, and that she did. Haeger sent a screamer to the center field wall to make it 7-1 Florida. Haeger and Fuller have been crushing the ball as of late, the duo went a combined 4 for 4 on the day driving in eight runs between the two of them. A Kelsey Horton single drove Haeger home on the next at bat, extending the Florida lead to 8-1 after two. The Gators chomped away for three more in the third to make it 11-1 Florida, a score few could have imagined for the outset.
Hannah Rogers had a rough start in the first, getting herself into an early jam allowing a quick run for USF to jump to an early 1-0 lead. Rogers settled in after the first and shut the Bulls down in a big way the rest of the day. Rogers went the length of the game, allowing just one run on one hit with six strike outs along the way.
With the win, Florida will play the winner of the loser’s bracket Sunday at 1pm. Florida would have to lose two straight games for another team to now advance out of the regional. “I’m really happy, this isn’t a team to me that’s too far ahead of itself,” Coach Tim Walton said about his young group following the big win. “They’re not looking at what if, they’re just doing a really good job of staying focused.