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Sunday May 18, 2008UCF Defeats Softball, 1-0, To Force Second Championship Game

Gainesville, FL

It took eight innings, but the UCF Knights (49-19) forced a second championship game in the Gainesville Regional, by defeating the No. 1 Gators (64-3) on Sunday afternoon. The loss broke a 37-game win streak and a 41-game home win streak.


In the bottom of the eighth Tiffany Lane and Marquita Council reached on back-to-back base hits, the first consecutive hits for either team in the game. They moved to second and third on a sacrifice bunt by Breanne Javier. Following a Hillary Barrow pop up to Florida junior catcher Kristina Hilberth (Dunedin, Fla.), a Gator error allowed Allison Kime to reach and Lane to scored from third for the win.


UCF was the first team to put a runner of base as they got a runner to first in each of the first two innings on walks from Florida pitcher Stacey Nelson (Los Alamitos , Calif.). But it was the Gators who got the first hits of the day. With one out in the top of the third, Hilberth beat out an infield base hit for the first hit of the game. Sophomore Corrie Brooks (Christmas, Fla.) reached on a fielder’s choice as Hilberth was thrown out at second. Junior Kim Waleszonia’s (Fontana, Calif.) base hit through the right side moved Brooks to third. Waleszonia advanced to second on the throw as UCF attempted to get Brooks at third. Freshman Aja Paculba (Wildomar, Calif.) walked to load the bases, but a strikeout to junior Ali Gardiner (Waccabuc, N.Y.) ended the inning and the Gator scoring threat.


The Knights got their first hit of the game in the bottom of the fourth. Javier led off the inning with a base hit deep to Paculba at second. She moved to second on Barrow ground out for the first out of the inning. Nelson struck out opposing pitcher Kime and then forced Lindsay Dean to ground out back to her to end the inning.


Each team added a hit in the fifth, but neither was able to bring a runner home.


The Gators loaded the bases again in the top of the sixth. Paculba led off the inning with a base hit up the middle. She stole second with one out. Sophomore Francesca Enea (Woodland Hills, Calif.) drew a walk on a 3-1 count. The runners advanced to second and third on a wild pitcher from UCF hurler Kime. Kime delivered a second consecutive walk, this time to freshman Tiffany DeFelice (Coral Springs, Fla.) to load the bases with only one out. The inning would end there, however, as freshman Megan Bush (Anaheim Hills, Calif.) lined into a double play at third to end the inning.


Council reached on a walk from Nelson to lead off the Knights’ half of the sixth. Javier grounded into a double play. A Gator error allowed another runner on base, but Waleszonia caught a pop up from Kime to end the inning.


In the top of the seventh, Hilberth knocked a double to left center with one out for third hit of the day. Hilberth moved to third on a Brooks ground out to second for the second out of the inning. Waleszonia drew a two-out walk and stole second to put two Gators in scoring position. Paculba took Kime to a full count before grounding out to short for the final out of the inning.


With one out in the bottom of the seventh, Cat Snapp dropped a base hit right inside the left foul line right behind third base for the third UCF hit on the day. She moved to second on a Lexi Gresham sacrifice bunt. Abby McClain grounded out to Brooks at third for the final out of regulation.


The Gators went down in order in the eighth to send the game to the bottom of the inning when UCF would score the winning run to force a second championship game.


Nelson took the loss for Florida to move to 42-3 on the year. She gave up five hits and three walks, while striking out six batters. The one run she gave up was unearned. Kime earned the win for UCF to move to 33-11 on the season. She also gave up five hits with four walks, while striking out three Gator batters.

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