Pacific Softball: Late Rally Hurts Tigers As Pacific Falls 10-2 At No. 2 Florida In Six Innings
Outgunned by the big hitting Gators, the Pacific softball team's upset bid of No. 2 Florida came up short as a late outburst by Florida downed the Tigers 10-2 to close out day two of the Lipton Invitational in Gainesville, Fla., on Saturday, March 5. The loss dropped Pacific to 2-2 in the tournament and 9-5 on the year while the Gators improved to 18-0, just one win short of tying their school record set in 2008 when the No. 1 Gators started the year 19-0.
Called upon once again to take on one of the top hitting teams in the nation, freshmanTori Shepardfound herself trailing early to the No. 2 Gators as Florida took the lead in the second inning on a solo blast to dead center field by Kelsey Horton. The home run was the first hit of the game for the Gators and lead off the inning. Despite the sudden deficit, Shepard rebounded to give up no further runs even after allowing two runners to reach safely with just one out in the inning and the top of the order stepping to the plate.
In the fourth, the Tigers blasted their way back into the contest as Pacific began to figure out Hannah Rogers, Florida's starting pitcher. Picking up their first hit of the afternoon on an infield slap by seniorLindsey Pierce, the Tigers jumped ahead of host Gators with one massive swing by juniorNicole Matson. Rounding back into her pre-injury form, Matson lined the first pitch she saw in her second at bat over the center field wall, putting the Tigers ahead 2-1 and giving Shepard her first lead while heading back to the circle.
For the freshman, she would cruise through the bottom half of the inning, but trouble would brew once again as the top of the lineup stepped to the plate for Florida in the bottom of the fifth. Leadoff singles to both Michelle Moultrie and Aja Paculba brought the heart of the order to the plate with runners aboard and no outs in the inning.
The jam would prove too much for Shepard as the power hitting Gators again used one swing of the bat to take back the lead when Brittany Schutte belted a three-run shot over the left-center field wall to put the Tigers behind once again. They would tack on two more runs in the inning when Megan Bush lifted a solo shot over the left field wall just one batter later while manufacturing their fifth and final run of the inning a few batters later.
An inning later the Gators would put Pacific away for good with another big inning, plating four more runs to hand the Tigers the run shortened loss.
Overall, Pacific posted four hits against Rogers, who improved to 8-0 with the win, while scoring their two runs. Rogers did record five strike outs and walked one in six complete innings of work. For Shepard (2-2), the loss was just her second of the year, both of which were registered against top-5 opponents. In five innings of work, Shepard gave up 11 hits and was charged with eight runs while striking out three and walking three. In relief, sophomoreGabby McDanielgave up the final two runs of the contest on two hits while striking out two and walking one.
For Matson, the home run marked her second of the day at the Lipton Invitational after tallying one against Valparaiso earlier in the morning. The long ball was the juniors' 16th of her career moving her into sole possession of No. 7 on Pacific's all-time list and just one away from tying current Pacific assistant coachLizzie Hagen(2004-07) for No. 6.
The Tigers will close out play at the Lipton Invitational on Sunday, March 6 when they take on North Dakota State in the fifth and final game of the tournament in Gainesville. The game is scheduled for 6:00 am PST, but impending thunder storms may force a delayed start of with travel considerations a complete cancelation of the contest.