Gators blank Seminoles 8-0

A freshman Taylor Schwarz (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) two-run round-tripper in the second got things started for the No. 3/4 Gators en route to the squad’s 11th straight win over the No. 23 Seminoles with an 8-0 mercy-rule victory at JoAnne Graf Field in Tallahassee Wednesday.

Florida added three runs in the third, two in the fourth and one in the fifth to enforce the run rule and sophomore righty Alyssa Bache (Clearwater, Fla.) backed it up in the circle with a two-hit shutout to improve to 8-0 this season. For Bache, the shutout was her fifth of the season, the Gators’ 15th.

Florida served FSU its largest margin of defeat this season and first run rule of the year behind Schwarz’s 2-for-2 performance, including a career-high four RBI. Junior Stephanie Tofft (Lincoln, Calif.) and senior Kelsey Horton (Valrico, Fla.) were both 2-for-3 on the day in the second Sunshine Showdown of the season to boost the Gators’ overall record to 42-5 overall, the first team to 42 wins in the country, with their first-ever shutout in Tallahassee.

The Share A Little Sunshine Showdown, Florida vs. Florida State Game was presented Wednesday evening by Visit Florida. Share a Little Sunshine is Visit Florida’s campaign to encourage all Floridians to invite their friends and families to Florida to boost tourism and help our state’s economy.

Freshman Kelsey Stewart (Wichita, Kan.) swiped her 30th base of the season in the fourth inning, one shy of the single-season record 31, while sophomore Katie Medina (Downey, Calif.) was hit with a pitch in the top of the fifth to set the new single-season team record with 60 HBP. Also in record-book talk, a freshman Kirsti Merritt (Lake Panasoffkee, Fla.) triple in the third brought UF within one of tying a single-season record of 17 set in 2003.

Florida delivered 10 hits, as six Gators connected in the mid-week clash, while UF drew four walks on the evening.

After a scoreless first frame for both squads, the Gators were quick to get on the board in the contest with a two spot in the top of the second, thanks to Schwarz’s sixth blast of the season. Tofft sent a one-out single up the middle to set up the two-run jack for the 2-0 Florida lead early. For Schwarz, the long ball marked her second in the last three games and the Gators never looked back.

With zeros on the board for the home team in the bottom of the second, Florida struck with a three-run second to keep the momentum. Merritt led off the top of the third for the Gators with her fourth triple of the season, inching the Gators one triple closer to the single-season school record 17 with Florida’s 16th of the year. Next up, Horton sent a hard-hit single down the left field line to plate Merritt for the 3-0 lead.

Tofft kept it rolling in the frame with her second hit of the day before both Horton and Tofft moved into scoring position on a Perry wild pitch. Schwarz connected with her second hit of the evening, a single up the middle for two more Gator runs and the 5-0 UF advantage after three.

In the top of the fourth, Horton ripped a two-out, two-RBI double – her ninth of the season – over the third baseman’s head into left, plating two more runs for the Orange and Blue. Stewart sped to first on a one-out bunt single before Merritt walked to set up Horton’s second hit of the night for the 7-0 Gator lead.

A one-run fifth frame, including Medina’s HBP, UF’s 60th of the season, gave the Orange and Blue the eight-run rule, thanks to a Stewart one-out bases-loaded chopper to shallow left field for the 8-0 differential. A sophomore Briana Little (Middleburg, Fla.) fielder’s choice, followed by Medina’s hit-by-pitch and a sophomore Bailey Castro (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) walk juiced the bags and turned the lineup over for Stewart’s RBI single. A fielder’s choice and pop up prevented the Gators from adding insurance in the inning.

Bache went to work in the bottom of the fifth, preserving the eight-run margin despite a Celeste Gomez two-out double for FSU’s second hit of the game. A groundout to Stewart at second sealed the deal for the Orange and Blue.

Starter Monica Perry (16-8) shouldered the loss in the circle for Florida State, as UF saw three different Seminole Hurlers. Perry had six Ks, but gave up nine hits and seven runs before Bailey Schinella and Jessica Nori combined for an inning of relief.

Courtesy of UF Communications