Throughout UF's last four outings in the past week, including a mid-week match-up with Jacksonville and the weekend series with Michigan State, the Gators have put up 44 runs, limiting opponents to just seven, including MSU's series-high four Sunday, while hitting six homers, five doubles and two triples. On the season, efficiency at the plate has resulted in 79 runs and 76 RBI for the Orange and Blue, which move on to the Cathedral City Classic in Palm Springs, Calif., Tuesday to take on BYU, Boise State and Top-25 foes Texas, Texas A&M and Washington at the Big League Dreams Sports Complex Feb. 23-25.
Florida continued its dominating offensive production, taking advantage of Michigan State righty Cassee Layne, who walked 11 Florida batters, including five in the first frame. Senior Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) was perfect at the plate with a 3-for-3 hitting performance and one walk, scoring all four times for four of UF's 15 runs. Junior catcher Brittany Schutte (Fountain Valley, Calif.) was 1-for-1, drove in two runs, walked a team-high three times and also scored four runs for the Gators. Sophomore Cheyenne Coyle (West Hills, Calif.) led the Orange and Blue with four RBI including a three-run shot to right center for her third long ball of the season in the bottom of the fourth for UF's final three runs of the tilt.
Freshman outfielder Briana Little (Middleburg, Fla.) earned her first career start for the Gators in left field, connecting on 1-for-1, with two walks, one RBI and a run scored.
Seven Gators connected for hits Sunday afternoon, resulting in a 10-hit, 15-run performance for UF. Layne (1-2) took her second loss of the season, working a complete game with just one strikeout. In the circle for the Gators, freshman righty Lauren Haeger (Peoria, Ariz.) won her third decision of the season to remain undefeated, giving up five hits, four runs and walking four with five Ks through the five-inning effort.
After a Coyle sac fly got the Gators on the board in the first, two more runs completed the inning after Layne struggled to find the strike zone and walked two Gators across home plate, Haeger and Schutte, both of whom reached base on balls in the bottom of the first frame.
UF added two more scored in the second to extend the lead, 5-0, on a junior Kelsey Horton (Valrico, Fla.) single up the middle before Florida busted it open in the third for a seven-run, six-hit rally.
Before the Gators exploded offensively in the third, the Spartans narrowed the UF lead, 5-3, with a two-out Sarah Bowling two-RBI double to left that plated two MSU student-athletes. Haeger forced a groundout to get out of the inning and the Florida offense gave the freshman athlete plenty of room to breathe in the bottom of the frame.
Four base hits from Little, freshman utility Jess Damico (Gray Summit, Mo.), freshman Sami Fagan (Dunnellon, Fla.) and Moultrie led off the scoring splurge for UF in the third as S. Fagan drove in the first run, while Moultrie's bunt single and a Spartan error scored Damico for the 7-3 lead. Layne then proceeded to walk Haeger, setting up a Schutte two-RBI base hit to make it nine Gator runs.
Layne quickly rallied for two outs, fanning her lone Gator of the contest in Coyle, and forcing a Horton foul out, but in typical Florida fashion, the Gators didn't back down. The pressure mounted for MSU, resulting in two more runs after a Jenny Ramsaier error at second allowed junior Ensley Gammel (Bakersfield, Calif.) to reach as Schutte and sophomore Kasey Fagan (Dunnellon, Fla.), pinch running for Haeger, scampered home for the 11-2 advantage.
All the way through the Florida lineup once, Little – who led off the third – was hit by a pitch in her second at-bat of the frame to move freshman Katie Medina (Downey, Calif.), running for Gammel, into scoring position. Damico connected for her second hit of the third inning to bring Medina home for the seventh and final run of the third inning before a S. Fagan fly out ended the scoring barrage with a 12-2 lead.
Despite the 10-run differential, Michigan State didn't back down at the top of the fourth, stringing together a three-hit, two-run inning with two outs on the board, capitalizing on a bases loaded situation and drawing a walk to bring their third run of the contest home. A Raime Cronkhite base hit gave MSU its fourth and final run before Haeger got Ali Grant to fly out to right, resulting in a 12-4, eight-run lead for UF heading to the bottom of the fourth.
Coyle's three-run shot in the fourth added three more insurance runs for the Orange and Blue for the 15-4 lead, while Haeger allowed one walk in the fifth, but sat three other Spartans down to seal the series sweep for the Gators.
Next up, UF will head to the ultra-competitive Cathedral City Classic in Palm Springs. For news and information leading up to UF's next contests against Texas A&M and Washington Feb. 23, be sure to follow the Gators on Twitter @GatorZoneSBall and on Facebook under University of Florida Softball.
All five games in the California tournament will be broadcast live and online at 104.9, 105 The Game, with Mike Gillespie and Megan Bush.