FULLERTON, Calif. -- Top-ranked Florida softball team equaled the best start to a season in school history with two wins on Thursday at the Judi Garman Classic, extending UF’s record to 24-0 on the year. The Gators came from behind to defeat No. 3 Michigan 7-4 in Game 1 before earning a 9-1 (5 innings) victory against San Jose State in the second contest. Aleshia Ocasio improved to 8-0 in 2015 with four scoreless innings of relief work against the Wolverines, while Lauren Haeger earned her tenth win of the season in the run-rule win over SJSU.
Michigan took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning in Game 1 as a leadoff single set up a two-run home run with one out. A two-run double in the third extend the Wolverines’ lead to four.
The Gators fought back in the home half of the frame with three runs. Florida loaded the bases on a Kelsey Stewart single, a fielder’s choice by Haeger and a hit-by-pitch from Bailey Castro. Back-to-back RBI singles byTaylore Fuller and Briana Little scored Stewart and Haeger before Taylor Schwarz was hit by a pitch to force in Castro.
After Ocasio relieved starter Delanie Gourley to begin the fourth inning, the Orange and Blue tied the game in the fifth when Castro drew a one-out walk and pinch-runner Justine McLean scored from first on an RBI double by Little. UF took a 7-4 lead in the following inning when Kathlyn Medina walked and Aubree Munro reached on a Wolverine fielding error to set up a two-run double by Stewart. The 2014 All-American made a heads-up play to score on the next play when Kirsti Merritt beat out a bunt single, extending the Gator advantage to three and producing the final margin.
Florida got on the board quickly in Game 2 against the Spartans as Stewart led off with a walk before coming home on an RBI single by Castro. The Orange and Blue added three more runs in the third on an RBI groundout by Fuller and a two-run double to left field by Janell Wheaton.
Two singles and a double produced a run for San Jose State in the fourth before another three-spot went up for the Gators. The runs came around on two more RBI two-baggers, a two-run double from Haeger to right-center and an RBI double from Kayli Kvistad to left-center. In the fifth and final inning, Stewart led off with a two-base hit to left, setting up a walk-off home run to right-center from Merritt that sealed the 9-1 mercy-rule victory.