March 17, 2012
by Koby Padgett
GAINESVILLE, Fla. - A tight contest went to No. 4 Florida (25-2, 6-1 SEC), as the Gators hung on to defeat South Carolina (19-11, 2-5 SEC) 1-0 on Saturday afternoon in front of 1,080 fans at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium.
The Gators put up their lone run in the third when freshman designated player Bailey Castro stepped up with two outs and poked a single to left just inside the foul line, scoring Sami Fagan from second after she started the frame by drawing a walk.
South Carolina, who out-hit Florida 5-3, had chances in the later stages of the game. In the sixth, junior shortstop Samie Garcia drew a leadoff walk, and senior centerfielder Lauren Lackey followed with a base hit, extending her hitting streak to a career-best 13 games, to give the Gamecocks life.
The Gators went to the pen, bringing in ace Hannah Rogers. Senior leftfielder Kaitlin Westfall sacrificed the runners into scoring position, putting two runners into scoring position for the Garnet and Black's cleanup hitter. But the Gators got the runner at third in a rundown when the squeeze bunt was not put down, nabbing Garcia for the second out on a close play at third. Rogers finished off the hitter to end the frame.
The Gamecocks got the leadoff runner on in the seventh when sophomore Chelsea Hawkins blooped a single to center that glanced off the glove of the Gator second baseman. Senior pinch runner Jackie Slawson moved to second on a grounder to first, but Rogers got an infield pop fly and a grounder to second to end the threat and contest.
Earlier, Florida threatened in the second, loading the bases with two down on three walks in the frame. But Gamecock starter Audrey Broyles (5-3) got out of the frame with a fly to left.
Gator freshman Lauren Haeger (8-1) picked up the win, tossing five innings of four-hit ball, fanning four. Rogers picked up her second save of the year, giving up a hit and striking out one in two innings. Broyles was charged with the loss, going the distance while allowing one earned run on five walks and three hits.
The two teams return to Pressly Stadium for a 1 p.m. first pitch on Sunday to close out the series.
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