In the first game of the weekend set #25 LSU overpowered #1 Florida for six innings. Delanie Gourley (10-0) was knocked out of the game and was on the hook for her first career loss. Lauren Haeger came in to relieve Gourley, but she was not able to slow down the Tigers offense either.
Through six innings LSU out hit Florida eight to one, including four homers which produced five runs. Despite only having one hit, Florida did produce some good at bats, drawing walks and taking hits by the pitcher. The Gators let two innings end with the bases loaded.
But then came the seventh inning. The Gators once again loaded the bases, using a leadoff walk and a pair of singles. Trailing 5-2 with two outs and two strikes, Taylore Fuller delivered a grand slam to give Florida the 6-5 lead.
Hannah Rogers entered the game for Haeger, trying to close it out. Instead, she quickly walked two batters and allowed a single. Before Rogers could retire the side the Tigers were able to tie the game on a fielder’s choice.
Florida carried their late-game momentum into the extra frame, and just as they did in the sixth and seventh innings, they loaded the bases. Justine McLean drew an RBI walk that brought Haeger home, breaking the tie 7-6 in favor of the Orange and Blue.
Rogers went back to work in the bottom of the eighth, and she looked like the Senior pitcher Florida fans are used to seeing, forcing a 1-2-3 inning to preserve the win.
Part of being the top ranked team and a championship hopeful means grinding out close games and finding ways to win. Not every game will be won by run rules, and Coach Tim Walton has to feel good about the way his team dug deep to earn this win.
Florida (27-1, 3-1) will play Game 2 Saturday night at 8:00.