Friday February 13, 2009Softball's Bats Come Up Big Against Texas Tech
The No. 2/2 University of Florida softball team recorded an eight-run inning for the second-consecutive game and senior Stacey Nelson (Los Alamitos, Calif.) tossed her second straight one-hitter as the Gators rolled to an 11-0 five-inning defeat of Texas Tech Friday night at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium in UF’s first game of the Lipton Invitational. Florida improved to 4-1 on the season (0-0 SEC) while the Red Raiders fell to 2-4 overall.
The All-American righty was dominant, striking out half of the 16 batters she faced over 5.0 innings. Nelson failed to give up a walk and moved to 2-1 on the season. Ashly Jacobs surrendered six runs on six hits and took the loss for Texas Tech, dropping to 1-2 on the year.
Offensively, Florida maximized their offensive efficiency in a big way, scoring 11 runs on 13 hits. The Gators were led by hard-hitting senior Ali Gardiner (Waccabuc, N.Y.), who went 2-for-3 with a two-run home run and three RBI. Additionally, sophomore Aja Paculba (Wildomar, Calif.) and junior Francesca Enea (Woodland Hills, Calif.) collected two hits and drove in two runs apiece.
Florida ran out of the gates quickly and never looked back, scoring two runs in the first inning. Paculba led off the bottom of the first with a walk on a full count and advanced to second once senior Kim Waleszonia (Fontana, Calif.) reached first on a chopper up the middle. Enea stepped up to the plate with one out and hit a fast-running grounder to the outfield wall past the shortstop and center fielder. The double knocked in both runners and gave Florida a 2-0 lead that they would never surrender.
The Gators broke the game open in the bottom of the third frame, scoring eight runs off two pitchers. Waleszonia led off the inning with a bunt single and stole second on the first pitch for her first stolen base of the season. Gardiner then belted her first homer of the season when she lined a 2-1 pitch just inches over the left field wall to give Florida a 4-0 lead. Following a one-out base-on-balls by sophomore Tiffany DeFelice (Coral Springs, Fla.), sophomore Kelsey Bruder (Corona, Calif.) doubled down the right field line and advanced DeFelice to third. Junior Corrie Brooks (Christmas, Fla.) connected with a bases-clearing double to score both DeFelice and Brooks, giving the Gators a six-run lead. After sophomore Megan Bush (Anaheim Hills, Calif.) was hit by a pitch, senior Kristina Hilberth (Dunedin, Fla.) knocked Brooks in with a single to left. Paculba tacked on another run to make it 8-0 when she singled to left, allowing Bush to score and Hilberth to advance to second. Waleszonia reached safely for the second straight time in the game when she made it to first on an error by the Red Raiders’ third baseman. The error saw Hilberth score and Paculba advance to third. Florida scored its last run of the inning to make it 10-0 when Gardiner recorded her third and final RBI of the game when a blooper fell into center field for a single.
Florida scored its last run in the bottom of the fourth using a combination of good base running and small ball. Bruder started the chain reaction with a single up the middle and Brooks walked to put two runners on with no outs. Freshman Lauren Heil (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) pinch-ran for Brooks and advanced to second when Bruder was forced out at third on fielder’s choice. Heil proceeded to move to third when Hilberth hit another fielder’s choice and pinch-running sophomore Ami Austin (Ormond Beach, Fla.) was forced out at second. Paculba gave the game its final score of 11-0 when she cranked a double down the line in left to give Heil her second run of the year.