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A New Day: Florida Softball Rebounds From Ruinous Friday, Stays Alive In NCAA Tournament

Yes, this picture's old. (Andy Hutchins/SB Nation)
Yes, this picture's old. (Andy Hutchins/SB Nation)

Florida softball could have crumbled on Saturday, in the aftermath of a truly awful Friday in which the history-making loss on the field was probably the team's second-biggest loss. But with two NCAA Tournament victories and a revenge win over Florida Gulf Coast, the No. 5 seed Gators stayed alive and kept their Women's College World Series dreams in focus.

Florida stomped UCF in its early elimination game, never trailing in a 7-1 win. Lauren Haeger ripped two homers in a 2-for-3 performance and led the Gators with three RBI, and Briana Little, Kasey Fagan's replacement in left field, went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI. Hannah Rogers pitched five scoreless innings for Florida before yielding to Haeger, and when the Knights cracked open the door with a run in the bottom of the sixth to cut UF's lead to 4-1, Florida responded with three runs in the top of the seventh to put the game out of reach.

Florida's second game against Florida Gulf Coast in as many days was a bit less one-sided. Haeger hit her third homer of the day, Kelsey Horton smacked two shots of her own, and Michelle Moultrie went 4-for-4, but the Eagles turned a 3-0 Gators lead into a 3-2 advantage heading into the top of the seventh ... only for Florida to put up another seventh-inning three-spot and get a 6-2 win. Haeger and Rogers flipped roles on the mound, with the freshman starting and allowing two runs in her five innings of work and the sophomore earning her fourth save of the year with two scoreless innings to finish.

Florida gave itself an arduous road out of the Gainesville Regional with its loss to FGCU on Friday, one that required four consecutive wins over teams that had scored wins off the Gators this year. But the Gators' journey to the Super Regional round is now just half done: they need to beat USF and ace Sara Nevins twice on Sunday, first in a 1:00 Eastern game, to move on.