Gator Sports Roundup: 4-11-14 Softball and Tennis
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The No. 6/8 Gator Softball team defeated Florida A&M, 9-0 (5 innings) on Friday (April 11) at Katie Seashole Pressly Softball Stadium. Freshman lefty Delanie Gourley (Lakeside, Calif.) threw a one-hit shutout with just one walk and seven strikeouts to run her record to 12-1 on the season. Three players had multiple hits for the Gators (36-8), who won their fifth consecutive game.
After Gourley fanned three Rattler hitters and one FAMU batter reached on an error in the top of the first inning, the Gator offense started quickly. Kelsey Stewart (Wichita, Kan.) led off the bottom of the first with a single up the middle. The sophomore then stole second base and came home on an RBI single by Stephanie Tofft (Lincoln, Calif.). Florida continued its early rally with a run-scoring base hit fromBriana Little (Middleburg, Fla.) that plated Tofft.
Florida’s southpaw retired FAMU in order in the second. Junior Jessica Damico (Gray Summit, Mo.) hit a one-out single and stole second base, but was stranded as the Gators went scoreless in the frame.
The Rattlers drew a one-out walk in the third, but Gourley stranded the runner at second. The Orange and Blue erupted for six runs in the bottom of the frame, sending 11 batters to the plate. The big inning began with a single from Tofft, who scored two batters later on an RBI single up the middle by Taylor Schwarz (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.). Following a walk to Bailey Castro (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) and a single by Briana Little (Middleburg, Fla.), Taylore Fuller broke the game open with a grand slam to center that made the score 7-0 in favor of the Gators.
UF’s breakout inning continued with a single from Stewart, who was lifted for pinch-runner Chelsea Herndon (Carrollton, Texas). The freshman stole second and then scored two batters later on Tofft’s second run-scoring single of the game. Once the Gators were retired in the third, Gourley allowed FAMU its only hit of the contest on a well-placed single up the middle. Shortstop Kathlyn Medina (Downey, Calif.) made an impressive play to get to the ball, but could not throw the runner out in time.
Florida added another run in the bottom of the fourth on an RBI double by pinch-hitter Justine McLean (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.), who batted in place of Medina. Gourley finished off the one-hit shutout with a 1-2-3 fifth inning, including her seventh strikeout of the night as the Gators earned their ninth mercy-rule victory of the year.
· Florida improved to 11-0 all-time against Florida A&M.
· The Orange and Blue defeated FAMU by mercy rule for the sixth time in series history, including the third straight game dating back to 2009.
· The Gators ran their record against in-state opponents to 6-1 this season.
· Gourley allowed one hit in a start for the third time this season. (Last: March 2 vs. Radford.)
· Little had a career-high three hits. (Previous: 2, 10 times; last: March 26 at UCF.)
· Damico registered her first hit of the season with a single through the left side in the second inning.
· Fuller’s grand slam was her third of the year, and the team’s sixth. The sophomore has three of the Gators’ last four slams, all since March 14.
· Seven of Fuller’s 12 hits this year are home runs.
· Tofft’s run-scoring single in the first marked her 40th RBI of the season, breaking a tie with Stewart for the team lead. The third baseman added another RBI single in the third to raise her RBI total to 41.
· With her leadoff single, Stewart extended her reached-base streak against nonconference opponents to 29 games; the infielder has reached base in every non-SEC game this year.
Head Coach Tim Walton
On getting players into the lineup who perform well in practice:
“That was good. I talked about that going into today, that this was an opportunity to play some of the other kids who have been working hard. We’re fortunate and unfortunate in that we have a battle going on in the outfield all the time, and you can’t get everybody in and do all the things that you want to do all the time. I still feel like [Little] had three hits, Jess had a hit, Justine comes off the bench with a hit, and those were some good things. [Sophomore outfielder] Kirsti [Merritt] in her first at-bat hit the ball hard in a spot where they just happened to be playing. It’s definitely good.”
On how this start will boost Gourley’s confidence:
“[It was a] good step in the right direction. I thought she really executed 95, 96 percent of her pitches to the spot that she wanted to throw them to, so it’s definitely a step in the right direction.”
On how the Gators can use these nonconference games to improve before SEC play resumes next weekend:
“There are some things we’re still working on in practice, and we’re doing conditioning and fitness and all the things we need to try to do to make a run here at the end. You can’t do that if you’re hurt or tired, so we’re really trying to work hard and get ourselves mentally and physically prepared for the last portion of the season.”
On Saturday’s game against NC State:
“They’re doing very well in the ACC, and they’re fairly high up in the rankings. They’re a team with a good pitching staff, and they had a good postseason run last year. It’s going to be a good game. It will be a challenge for us for sure.”
Sophomore UT Taylore Fuller
On hitting the grand slam:
“I’ve been working on staying back on the slower pitches, and that was a change-up, so it felt good to go through the middle and help my team get those runs.”
On that being her seventh home run out of 12 hits:
“That’s a good thing and bad thing, I guess. I’m working on it. I want to continue producing for my team, and as long as I’m producing for my team, I don’t really care how many hits I have.”
On the team’s six hits in the third inning:
“We feed off each other really well. If one person gets on base, then another and another, it’s just a chain reaction with us. We all have really good chemistry, and we feed off each other. I think that’s what good teams do.”
Freshman LHP Delanie Gourley
On her performance tonight:
“I felt good. I’ve been working on a lot of things in the bullpen, and I executed them really well today, so I’m happy with it.”
On how she felt about the offense providing runs:
“It was great. They went up there with a plan, and executed it really well. They wanted their pitches, and they definitely hit their pitches.”
On the five-game win streak after the four-game losing streak:
“It feels good. Like I said earlier, when you lose, you just have to get past it. We’re still going to take it one game at a time.”
FOLLOW THE GATORS
The Gators wrap up a week of nonconference play on Saturday, when they host NC State at 3 p.m. ET at Katie Seashole Pressly Softball Stadium. GatorVision will have live video for subscribers. Radio coverage will be provided on GatorZone.com, with Adam Schick handling play-by-play. In addition, fans can access Gametracker on the GatorZone.com schedule page to find live stats.
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