Through the wonderful invention known as WatchESPN, I was able to catch another out of town Gator sporting event. Today's sport was softball and the Gators' opponent was a familiar one in Florida State. Extra innings were not needed for this one (FSU won the first game in Gainesville by one run in eight innings) as the #8 Gators defeated the #7 Seminoles 4-2.
It was a pitcher's duel for most of the game as both teams combined for just eight hits. FSU's junior pitcher Lacey Waldrop struck out eight Gators in a losing effort. On the other side, Florida senior Hannah Rodgers matched her pitch for pitch as she struck out four and didn't give up a run until the sixth inning. The Seminoles threatened with runners on base on many different occasions, but couldn't find a way to bring them home. FSU left nine runners on base compared to just two by Florida. That being said, Gator batters did not get on base as often as FSU's did.
The Gators only had three hits, but two of them came at the timeliest of moments. The first clutch hit came from sophomore Taylor Schwarz. Her bases loaded single with two outs in the fourth broke a scoreless tie and plated two runs. When FSU responded with a run in the bottom of the sixth to cut the lead to one, the Gators knew they had to muster some type of insurance runs. They needed to look no further than junior Bailey Castro. Coming in to pinch hit against a new pitcher (redshirt freshman Jessica Burroughs) with a runner on second base and two outs, Castro smashed a 3-1 pitch high over the left field fence for a two run home run that all but sealed FSU's fate. The Seminoles staged a little rally and threatened in the bottom of the seventh due to some Florida errors, but it was not enough to faze Hannah Rodgers as she closed the game out to earn her 17th win of the year.
Now riding a four game winning streak, the Gators (34-8) will return to Gainesville to play the Florida A&M Rattlers (14-21) on Friday, April 11, at 6 p.m. Discouraged after losing to their archival at home, the Seminoles (38-4) will now shift their focus to keeping their place atop the ACC standings as they head to South Bend to take on Notre Dame (22-7) on Sunday, April 13, in a double header at 12 p.m. and 3 p.m.
*Stats accredited to Gatorzone.com