March 23, 2014
GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Alabama bounced back from Saturday's loss in a big way, building an early lead and never looking back as the Crimson Tide shut out the top-ranked Florida Gators, 7-0, on Sunday.
The Tide remains undefeated this season when scoring first, and Sunday was no different.
"The first inning was key," said Head Coach Patrick Murphy about Alabama scoring three in the first inning. "Throughout the first inning, [Hannah] Rogers started elevating the ball and she didn't do that at all yesterday. Obviously, the home run ball must have been up high."
Alabama (27-5, 8-1 SEC) secured its first series win in Gainesville since 2005 with a well-balanced performance, allowing just two hits while knocking in nine of its own with seven runs. The top five in the order accounted for seven of those nine hits, including two-hit performances by Kaila Hunt and Jadyn Spencer and a three-run homer by Leona Lafaele.
"We had really good at-bats against Florida's lefty as well, and both of them are very good pitchers," said Murphy. "To score seven runs off them on the final day means our hitters made adjustments and were picking the right pitches and we didn't do that yesterday."
Jaclyn Traina (11-2) threw her second shutout of the season, going the distance with just two hits allowed, both coming in the opening two innings.
"We had great momentum in the first inning and that was easy to feed off of," said Traina. "My team makes it easy for me out there. We have such great chemistry and they make it so much fun."
Florida (29-4, 5-4 SEC) suffers its first SEC series loss of the season, as the Gator bats were held to just two hits for the second time this weekend. After throwing a complete game yesterday, Hannah Rogers (13-3) got the start on Sunday but lasted just 2.0 innings, allowing six hits and three earned runs.
Alabama didn't waste any time getting the bats going, as an Andrea Hawkins single and a Spencer double set up Lafaele for a huge three-run home run over the scoreboard in left-center to take an early 3-0 lead in the first inning.
After a leadoff single by Hunt in the top of the third, Rogers made an early exit for the Gators as Friday starter Delanie Gourley entered to pitch for Florida. Hunt would advance to second off a groundout but a strikeout and popup would strand her as Gourley got out of the inning unscathed.
Hawkins led off the top of the fifth with a hard bunt that Gourley made a bad throw on, allowing Hawkins to advance all the way to second on the error. With one out in the inning, Spencer hit a timely RBI single to give the Tide some insurance with a 4-0 lead.
Traina was walked to lead off the top of the sixth and Chandler Dare, pinch-hitting, laid down a sacrifice bunt but a wildly errant throw allowed Traina to score from second and Dare to advance all the way to third as the Tide led 5-0. Danae Hays followed that up with an RBI double into left-center to stretch Alabama's lead to 6-0. Three batters later, Hunt drove in Hays off an RBI single up the middle to make it 7-0. Alabama would eventually get a pair into scoring position but a fly ball left them stranded.
The score remained 7-0 heading into the bottom of the seventh, as Traina shut down the Gators in order to preserve the shutout victory and clinch the series.
Next up, Alabama will make a quick trip to Jacksonville, Fla., to face the Jacksonville Dolphins (12-17) on Tuesday, March 25 at 6 p.m. CT.