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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Alabama downs Florida softball, clinches regular season SEC title

When the flood of runs began, Lauren Haeger was there to stop it. But the relief was too little, too late.

No. 7 Florida’s Hannah Rogers started for the third consecutive day against No. 4 Alabama’s Jackie Traina. But the Rogers that tossed seven innings of three-hit ball on Friday was nowhere to be found and instead the Rogers of Saturday showed up and failed to even record one out.

After facing four batters, Rogers allowed all four on base, allowed three hits and surrendered four runs. Coach Tim Walton had enough and pulled her for the shortest appearance of her career.

This weekend was the first time all season Rogers pitched in three straight days and she dropped the last two after giving up three runs on Saturday and four more on Sunday.

Lauren Haeger, who had not pitched at all this weekend, was put in the game already down 4-0 in the first but battled for six innings in the circle. She gave up five more hits but limited the Crimson Tide to just one more additional run. 

At the plate, Haeger did her best to get her team to scratch and claw back in the game. The freshman slugger went 1-for-3 with a home run and two RBI. Both Haeger and junior Kelsey Horton each chalked up her 11th homer of the year, which is the most on the team.

But the home runs were the only sources of run production for the Gators. The three runs Florida put up in the fourth inning was all the offense could muster up all game.

Against Traina, who now improves to 31-2 on the season, the Gators struck out six times and three of the five hits they earned on the day came in the fourth. 

With the win, Alabama captured its third consecutive Southeastern Conference regular season title and enter Thursday’s SEC Tournament as the No. 1 seed. Florida would have won a share of the title, along with Alabama and Tennessee, with a victory on Sunday.

Instead, Florida will now be the No. 3 seed and will face No. 6 seed LSU. The Gators split the two-game series earlier this year against the Tigers and look to go deeper in the tournament as last year they were eliminated against Auburn in the first game.

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