USF Bulls softball loses to Florida Gators

TAMPA — USF's Sara Nevins had a one-hitter and a 1-0 lead with two outs in the sixth inning, but Florida rallied with three clutch hits, including a two-run homer from Lauren Haeger, for a 3-1 victory Wednesday before an announced crowd of 1,611 at USF Softball Stadium.

The Bulls (6-9) came in having been shut out four games in a row over the weekend, but the scoreless streak ended at 31 innings when Kenshyra Jackson led off the fourth with a solo home run.

But Florida (17-1), ranked No. 4 in the coaches poll, tagged Nevins for three straight hits — a double by Kelsey Stewart, a run-scoring and game-tying single by Kirsti Merritt, then Haeger's shot to right-centerfield. It was Florida's seventh come-from-behind victory of the season.

"We had some good at-bats. That's the name of the game when you're facing two great pitchers, two All-Americans," said Gators coach Tim Walton, who saw starter Hannah Rogers improve to 8-1.

"It's not about how many hits you get, how many strikeouts you have, it's being able to get that clutch hit and score from second base."

Nevins (2-3) struck out eight batters and was visited on the mound after Stewart's double by coach Ken Eriksen, who let the junior and former Pinellas Park High standout stay in the game.

"We were one or two hits away from leading 5-0," Eriksen said. "Give the pitcher on the other team a lot of credit, we were hitting, but she kept battling and battling."

The Bulls, who reached the College World Series last season, have lost six in a row. Their next game is Friday when they host Kentucky and Illinois in a doubleheader starting at 2 p.m.

"I'm excited for practice (today)," Eriksen said. "We've set our lineup, we've gotten better. There's a lot we can take away from this game."

Greg Auman can be reached at auman@tampabay.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GregAuman.

USF Bulls softball loses to Florida Gators 02/27/13 [Last modified: Thursday, February 28, 2013 12:04am]

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