Softball2009 NCAA Women's College World Series
NCAA WOMEN’S COLLEGE WORLD SERIES
May 28-June 3, 2009
ASA Hall of Fame Stadium
Oklahoma City, Okla.
Game 12: Florida 6, Alabama 5
· Florida’s Ali Gardiner connected on a two-out walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the seventh to lift the Gators over Alabama, 6-5. It marked the senior first baseman’s ninth home run of the season (first career grand slam) and gave her 48 RBIs this year (second most on team). The grand slam scored Megan Bush, Francesca Enea and Aja Paculba.
· Gardiner headed to her final at bat hitless (0-for-15) since NCAA regional action. She was 0-for-9 in the WCWS and 0-for-6 in super regional play. Her last hit occurred on May 17 versus Lehigh.
· Gardiner’s grand slam was the 12th this year by Florida. She became the fifth Gator to hit one this season.
· Florida’s late heroics extended its winning streak to 29 games. Its last loss came March 29 in Gainesville (6-4 to Alabama).
· With the victory, the Gators (63-3) advance to the championship series for the first time in school history (this is their second WCWS appearance). Florida, which will face the winner of Sunday night’s Georgia/Washington matchup, is 6-2 all-time at the WCWS and 3-0 this year. Florida will bid to become the first SEC team to win an NCAA softball title.
· This year’s WCWS has produced a record 22 home runs. The previous record was 20 in 2003.
· Florida left fielder Francesca Enea’s error in the top of the third on Jennifer Fenton’s single marked the junior’s first this season. Fenton later scored on a Kelley Montalvo single to give Alabama a 1-0 lead. It was Montalvo’s 37th RBI of the season and Fenton’s 43rd run of the year.
· Kelsey Bruder’s two-run home run in the bottom of the fourth inning for Florida marked her 16th round-tripper this season and boosted her team-leading RBI total to 68.
· Florida pitcher Stacey Nelson did not give up a run in the Gators’ first two games this week, but was touched up for five tallies (four earned) in 5.0 innings of work today. The five runs tied as the most the senior has surrendered in a game this year, as the Crimson Tide also plated five runs against her on May 9 (UF won 9-5). Nelson entered today’s contest with a 0.39 ERA.
· Stephanie Brombacher earned the win in relief for Florida to improve to 22-0 on the year. The sophomore gave up one hit and struck out four in 2.0 innings of work. Kelsi Dunne took the loss for Alabama, tossing 6.2 innings and giving up six runs (all earned) on seven hits. She fell to 28-5.
· Florida improved to 4-1 against Alabama this season with today’s victory. The SEC foes met three times in the regular season and once in the conference tournament. The Crimson Tide still lead the overall series, 24-17.
· Alabama’s loss was just its second in 42 contests this season when leading after the third inning (it led 1-0) and just its sixth loss (41-6) when scoring first. The Tide finished the year with a 54-11 record.
FLORIDA HEAD COACH TIM WALTON
“I have been coaching softball now for 11 years and in my 11 years I have never seen a team with so much determination and fight. No matter if we are getting out-played, out-hit, out-scored, it doesn’t matter. We always know we are going to have a good chance with our nine hitters. We hit one through nine and (have) two that come off the bench to help and five more ready. I’ve never seen a team in any sport that has more determination, more class or plays the game the right way than the group of kids I get to coach. I want to take my hat off to Alabama. They are obviously a great team. To be able to get that many runs off Stacey Nelson is a feat in itself and we give them credit. We are going to miss (Alabama’s) Kelley Montalvo and Brittany Rogers, two of the best players in the country at their positions. They are class-act kids and I really enjoy watching them play. I hate it when they get on base so much against us, but they are great players. Overall I am very proud of my team.”
On this year’s Florida seniors:
“I think they are very special. We have some great kids in the mix. Their maturity and how well they handle the adverse situations as college students. Danyell (Hines), Ali (Gardner) and the other four just gutted it out. Kim Waleszonia and Stacey Nelson developed right in front of me. Brooke Johnson has done a great job; Kristina Hilberth is one of the best catchers in the country and one of the best catchers to wear the Gator uniform. These seniors mean a lot to me. They understand the meaning of being a true student-athlete.”
On the game:
“I think it was the best softball game I’ve ever been a part of.”
FLORIDA SENIOR FIRST BASEMAN ALI GARDINER
On her two-out walk-off grand slam:
“I’ve been working to try to get out of my own head all week. I’ve felt like I have never had to work harder to get a base hit. My last at bat I just went up there, cleared my mind and was just trying to make good contact and find a way on. Kelsi Dunn did a great job of mixing the ball up; she always does a great job. This team always wants it so bad. One out, two outs, down by seven down by fifteen, we are going to find a way. We just want this so bad. I’m so glad that after a whole year of them picking me up that I could finally pick my team up.”
FLORIDA SOPHOMORE RIGHT FIELDER KELSEY BRUDER
On her diving catch in the top of the seventh inning:
“The only thing going through my head was, ‘I’m diving towards the line, this is exactly what you’re not supposed to do.’ I just knew I had to catch it or keep it in front of me in order to keep the runner from scoring.”
On the game’s momentum changes:
“You always have to be careful with Alabama. They are just as capable of scoring as many runs as we are. So I knew we had to keep at it and keep the momentum on our side. Once the shift did happen, we had to get right back at it. We refocused in the dugout and Steph (Brombacher) coming in did a great job.”
FLORIDA SOPHOMORE PITCHER STEPHANIE BROMBACHER
On her two scoreless innings in relief of Stacey Nelson:
“I know my role on this team. Coming into the World Series, Stacey had been throwing great and I was just hoping that I would get my chance. I knew I had to come in and keep us within a few runs. We have hit 12 grand slams this year. Our team can hit the long ball and I knew if I kept us within striking distance we would find a way to score.”
ALABAMA HEAD COACH PATRICK MURPHY
“I thought it was a very entertaining game for the fans. It was just a great day for softball. I think our team fought to the very end and that’s what we asked them to do right after the loss to Michigan (Thursday) to show everyone what kind of team we have. I think they did and I thought it was just a very good game. Congratulations to Florida. They’ll represent the SEC very well.”
On his thoughts about the increased run scoring at this year’s WCWS:
“The entire place here is incredible. The facility is great, the fans are great, you guys are awesome, the hosts, just everybody. It’s the experience of a lifetime for these young ladies. We appreciate everything. But I think we need to start thinking about moving the fence back a little bit. Nobody hits a triple. I mean that’s 190 (feet down the line), 220 (to center). Put the triple back into the game, add some more excitement. Some of those balls that are just right at the fence are going to be caught. There has to be a warning track here. We play on fields all year long with a warning track and there’s no warning track when we get here. The fence should be about five or six feet tall. There are things that we’ve told in our evaluations and everything and we’ll do that again. But it’s just too great of an event and facility to have a shortcoming here and there. All of us play on warning tracks all year and when we get here it’s something different and I don’t think it should be. But you’re right – it’s fun for the fans. Maybe not for some of the coaches and some of the pitchers.”
ALABAMA SOPHOMORE PITCHER KELSI DUNNE
went through her mind when the ball left Ali Gardiner’s bat on the walk-off
“The first thing I thought was that Whitney (Larsen) was going to catch it. The ball carried and it went a little too far.”
ALABAMA FRESHMAN OUTFIELDER JENNIFER FENTON
experience of her first year on the team:
“I think the seniors have been a great group of role models. Now we know what it takes to make it this far and we’re just going to work harder next year.”
ALABAMA SENIOR INFIELDER LAUREN PARKER
On her reaction to the
upset, but we couldn’t have done more. We fought to the end. We’ve fought all
season long and faced adversity all season long. We just came out and showed
what we had and did what we needed to do to fight. Obviously it didn’t work
out our way, but you learn a lot from the game. I’m going to take a lot of
things from the game, especially today’s game. There’s more fight in you.
Today’s game taught me about our seniors, about this program and about myself
as well. So obviously I’m very upset, but what else do you do? You go out
there and you fight until the end and that’s what we did. It just didn’t go