Special to GC
The No. 3/5 Gator Softball team earned its 11th win in 12 games on Saturday (April 26), defeating No. 15/17 Missouri 9-4 at Katie Seashole Pressly Softball Stadium. Florida (42-9, 12-8 SEC) hit three home runs on the day, and held Missouri (37-13, 13-7 SEC) scoreless for the final six innings. Junior Lauren Haeger (Peoria, Ariz.) improved to 8-1 on the season after she came out of the bullpen to work 7.0 shutout innings, allowing six hits with two walks and two strikeouts. The junior helped her own cause with two home runs and five RBI, tying her season high in both categories.
Missouri scored all four of its runs in the first inning on an RBI single, a wild pitch and a two-run base hit. The Orange and Blue went down in order in the bottom of the frame before Haeger returned the favor in the top of the second. The junior opened the scoring for Florida with a leadoff homer in the bottom of the inning, and then stranded three baserunners in the third.
The Gators took a 6-4 lead with five runs in the third. Kelsey Stewart (Wichita, Kan.) led off the inning with a bunt single before Kirsti Merritt (Lake Panasoffkee, Fla.) walked and senior Stephanie Tofft (Lincoln, Calif.) moved both up one base with a groundout. Haeger then reached on a fielder’s choice to score Stewart before Bailey Castro (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) brought Merritt home on a single to left field. Briana Little (Middleburg, Fla.) then punctuated the rally with a go-ahead three-run home run to left.
Haeger retired the Tigers on three groundouts in the fourth, and blasted a three-run homer in the home half to score Tofft and Merritt. Castro and Little drew walks following the home run, but both were stranded.
Mizzou had four baserunners in the fifth on a walk, a single and two fielder’s choices, but the Gators cut down two runners before Haeger left two on base. Stewart hit a two-out double for Florida, but she was left at second. The Gators had two baserunners in the sixth following a 1-2-3 inning from their junior pitcher, but both were stranded. The Tigers knocked a pair of two-out singles in the final frame; Haeger stranded both on a groundout to shortstop to end the game and knot the series at one apiece.