Gainesville, FL - The University of Florida softball team defeated Stetson 14-0 (6 innings) on Saturday to advance to the championship game of the NCAA Tournament Gainesville Regional. Senior Hannah Rogers tossed a four-hit shutout, allowing one walk and striking out four batters.
Stephanie Tofft got things started for Florida with a one-out single in the top of the first, and the Gators (47-11) loaded the bases on walks to Lauren Haeger and Briana Little. UF plated its first run when Bailey Castro was hit by a pitch to force in Tofft. Stetson (39-13) had a one-out single in the bottom of the frame, but Aubree Munro caught the runner stealing after a strikeout from Rogers.
The Orange and Blue added another run in the second when Munro reached on a two-base error and then scored two batters later on an RBI groundout by Kelsey Stewart. Stetson had a baserunner in the home half on a UF miscue, but Rogers induced a groundout by the next batter to end the inning.
Castro doubled to left to begin the third, advancing on a sacrifice bunt by Kirsti Merritt before Taylor Schwarz pushed the Gator lead to three with an RBI single to left. A single by Munro set up Stewart for a two-run triple to right-center, and Tofft drove in the sophomore on a base hit to left, putting the Gators ahead 6-0. The Hatters had a one-out single in the bottom of the inning, but the runner was hit by a batted ball on a two-out base hit to end the inning.
Castro drew a one-out walk in the fourth, and pinch-runner Justine McLean got as far as third before she was tagged out trying to score on Schwarz' two-out bunt single. Rogers (24-8) retired Stetson in order in the bottom of the frame.
Taylore Fuller singled through the left side as a pinch-hitter to lead off the fifth, and advanced to third on a sacrifice and a wild pitch. Fuller came home on Stewart’s base hit to right, putting the Gators up 7-0. The Hatters drew a leadoff walk, but Rogers stranded the runner in the home half.
McLean reached on a fielder’s choice with one out in the sixth, and the freshman scored from first on Merritt’s double to left-center to push the lead to eight. Pinch-hitter Chelsea Herndon plated Merritt with a single to right after a walk to Schwarz, and Jessica Damico scored the first baseman on a pinch-hit infield single. A walk to substitute Francesca Martinez loaded the bases for Haeger, who launched a grand slam to right-center that gave the Gators a 14-0 lead.
Rogers allowed a two-out single up the middle in the bottom of the sixth before completing the shutout with a groundout to third base, securing a berth for Florida in Sunday’s regional final.
· Saturday’s win marks the largest margin of victory and the biggest shutout win in UF’s NCAA Tournament history, surpassing a 12-0 win over Florida A&M on May 15, 2009.
· Florida tied a season high with 17 hits (also: Feb. 22 vs. Troy).
· The Gators’ 14 runs marks their sixth-highest output this season.
· The Gators’ four pinch-hitters were 3-for-3 with a walk and two RBI. All four came around to score runs.
· Stetson did not advance a runner to second base.
· Rogers threw her fourth career shutout in 16 NCAA Tournament starts (last: May 26, 2013, vs. UAB).
· Stewart recorded the first four-RBI game of her career.
· The Wichita, Kan., native hit a triple for the second consecutive game and the third time in 10 NCAA Tournament contests.
· The infielder had her 16th multi-RBI game of 2014, tying Tofft for second place on the team (Haeger – 17).
· Tofft had her fourth three-hit game of the season; all three have come in the last 15 games (since April 12).
· Schwarz recorded her 10th multi-hit game in 2014, doubling her total from her freshman campaign.
· After driving in four runs in eight NCAA Tournament games last season, Schwarz has four RBI in two contests this year.