Gainesville, Fla. - The No. 1-ranked Gator Softball team defeated No. 10 Florida State, 5-0, on Wednesday night at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium. Senior right-hander Lauren Haeger ran her 2015 winning streak to 21 games as she allowed four hits and recorded four strikeouts over five innings. With the win, Florida (44-4) will complete the regular season with a 31-0 record in nonconference games.
Florida jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first when Nicole DeWitt was hit by a pitch before advancing to third on a Kirsti Merritt single and a wild pitch. The freshman then scored the game's first run on an RBI groundout to second by Haeger.
The Gators built on their lead in the third, adding two runs on a Haeger single through the left side after DeWitt beat out an infield single and Merritt reached on a fielder's choice. UF ran its advantage to 5-0 in the fifth. Justine McLean led off with a walk before Kelsey Stewart and DeWitt singled. McLean came home on a passed ball and Stewart scored on Merritt's sacrifice bunt.
Aleshia Ocasio relieved Haeger for the sixth inning, and finished off the shutout with three strikeouts and one walk over two hitless innings.
On DeWitt's strong play against FSU and in general:
"She's had some nice at-bats over the last few weeks. She has really embraced that 2 position [in the lineup]. When Kelsey [Stewart] gets on, we have a good chance to get her over at least - or Nicole gets a big hit when Kelsey didn't get on. Give her a lot of credit. I think she's really done a nice job in a complementary role, but sometimes she's had the role. She's set the table nicely."
On the Gators' undefeated record in nonconference play:
"The first credit you have to give is to [Assistant Coach] Jen Rocha to be able to put together all the scouting reports and game plans for pitch-calling and opponents and put us in a good position with spray charts. The first credit goes to her and our coaches to prepare. After the preparation, you've got to give the players credit to come every day ready to go. I don't think we've ever taken a day where we've overlooked our opponent. We have played good softball, even when we weren't at our best because of our opponent or because of us. We still found a way to win and have quality at-bats. Even tonight, we had some little base hits or groundballs - we were still scoring runs. That's a credit to our players buying into [the idea that] whenever you have opportunities, you have to deliver."
On the final home series of the regular season this weekend against Texas A&M:
"I told our players yesterday that our main focus is not on the SEC [title] - our main focus is to try to win every at-bat, every inning and ultimately the game. We're going to take no different approach on Senior Weekend. It's an opportunity to reflect on each of our six seniors' careers. They've all meant a lot to us, whether it's in the game, in practice, in the classroom or on the road. In their own way, they're all special people to our program. They're all part of a national championship. Even though they're graduating, they'll never be lost from the record books and the memories of our program and what we've built here." - Florida Head Coach Tim Walton
No. 1 Florida will open its final home series of the regular season Friday at 6 p.m. ET, when the Gators host No. 25 Texas A&M. The contest will air on SEC Network+ through participating TV providers only via WatchESPN. Florida Sports Talk will have the radio broadcast with Adam Schick (play-by-play) and former Gator All-American Megan Bush (analysis) on the call. In addition, a live stats link can be found on the schedule page on GatorZone.com.