Sunday March 1, 2009No. 2 Softball Downs Illinois, 7-2, in Shortened Game
Led by sophomore Aja Paculba (Wildomar, Calif.), the second-ranked University of Florida Gators knocked off Illinois, 7-2, in five innings at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium on Sunday afternoon on final day of the Cox Invitational. The game was shortened due to Illinois’s travel schedule.
Paculba went 2-for-2 with an RBI, a sacrifice hit, three runs scored and a stolen base. Senior Stacey Nelson (Los Alamitos, Calif.) got the win, improving her record to 9-2. The righty struck out three and allowed one hit over 2.1 innings. Sophomore Stephanie Brombacher (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) pitched 2.2 innings, gave up one earned run, walked one and struck out two. Freshman Alicia Sisco (Cooper City, Fla.) earned her first career start for the Orange and Blue, playing right field.
Illinois was the first to score, tallying a run in the top of the first. Lead-off hitter Danielle Zymkowitz reached first when sophomore Megan Bush (Anaheim Hills, Calif.) and Paculba collided behind the second base bag. A sacrifice bunt by Jamie Adishian moved the lead runner over and a double to deep center field by Hollie Pinchback scored Zymkowitz.
It didn’t take long for the Gators to take the lead. In the bottom of the first, Paculba started things off with a single to right field. Then junior Francesca Enea (Woodland Hills, Calif.) hit a two-out home run to center field, her second of the tournament, to put UF ahead.
In the top of the third, Zymkowitz tied the score with her own bomb to right center that cleared the fence. It marked the first time this season a Florida pitcher allowed a home run. With two outs and a runner on first, Nelson came in to relieve Brombacher. The senior forced a fly out to end the inning.
Florida scored two in the bottom of the same frame to regain the lead. With Pacubla on first after singling to right center, sophomore Kelsey Bruder (Corona, Calif.) launched one to dead center field, recording her third home run in three days.
The Gators tallied three insurance runs in the fourth to seal their 18th victory. With one out, senior Kristina Hilberth (Dunedin, Fla.) smacked a triple over the center fielder’s head to get things started. She scored when head coach Tim Walton put on the suicide squeeze with Pacubla at the plate. Paculba used her speed to end up on second with the throw to the plate. Senior Ali Gardiner (Waccabuc, N.Y.) hit a liner to second base to move Paculba to third. Freshman Lauren Heil (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) came in to pinch run and trotted to second when Enea drew a walk. Pacubla scored on a wild pitch for UF’s seventh and final run.
Monica Perry (8-5) shouldered the loss for the Fighting Illini, giving up all seven runs and hits while walking four and striking out four over 4.0 innings.