GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Behind senior Lauren Haeger's two-hitter, the University of Florida softball team blanked Kentucky 7-0 on Saturday afternoon in front of a sell-out crowd (1,739) in Game 1 of the NCAA Super Regional.
The Peoria, Ariz. product improved to 27-1 on the season and has now tossed 22.2 consecutive-scoreless innings against the Wildcats. Offensively, UF was led by freshman Kayli Kvistad as she notched her seventh-career three RBI game.
UF jumped on the Wildcats early, as the Gators plated four runs in the bottom of the first inning on three hits.
Florida loaded the bases following a pair of singles by junior Kelsey Stewart and freshman Nicole DeWitt and a walk from junior Kirsti Merritt.Junior Taylore Fuller was then hit-by-a-pitch to plate Stewart and give UF a 1-0 lead. Rookie Kayli Kvistad then bashed a bases-clearing double over UK's right fielder to give UF a 4-0 advantage.
The Gators never looked back.
Behind great defense and unbelievable pitching from Haeger, UF held the Wildcats to just two hits and two base runners to secure the game one victory.
Florida tacked on three insurance runs in the sixth, as Haeger blasted solo homer and Merritt hit a two-run bomb to give UF a commanding 7-0 lead. Bailey Castro reached base prior to Merritt's long ball after being hit-by-a-pitch.
Those homers were the 16th and ninth jacks of the season for Haeger and Castro, respectively.
STARS OF THE GAME
Lauren Haeger: The right-hander retired Kentucky's first 16 batters and allowed just two base runners the entire game.
Kayli Kvistad: The freshman notched her seventh three-RBI game of the season as she blasted a bases-clearing double in the bottom of the first inning.
Kirsti Merritt: She gave UF a commanding 7-0 advantage in the bottom of the sixth inning when she hit her ninth homer of the season.
Nicole DeWitt's first-inning single extended her career-long hit streak to six games.
Kelsey Stewart now has an 18 game hitting streak in the NCAA Tournament dating back to last season.
Taylore Fuller was beaned by a pitch for the 33rd time this season, extending her own school record.
Florida now has seven extra-base hits this postseason and they have all been by different Gators.
Lauren Haeger recorded her first postseason home run since game one of the 2014 Super Regional (Washington, 5/25/14).
The Super Regional concludes Sunday with Game 2 at noon (all times Eastern) and Game 3 (if necessary) at 3 p.m. ESPN will televise the action with Mark Neely (play-by-play) and former Arizona All-American Jenny Dalton-Hill (analysis) on the call. Florida Sports Talk will have the radio broadcast with Adam Schick (play-by-play) and former Gator All-American Megan Bush as the announce team.