Saturday March 21, 2009No. 1 Softball Shut Outs No. 6 Tennessee in Doubleheader
Head Coach Tim Walton became the winngest coach in Florida Softball history as the No. 1/1 University of Florida defeated No. 6/6 Tennessee, 7-0, in both Saturday-afternoon contests in front of a season-high crowd of 1,677.
The Gators (31-2, 10-0 SEC) were led by junior Corrie Brooks (Christmas, Fla.), who nailed two home runs, including a grand slam. Sophomore Aja Pacubla (Wildomar, Calif.) came up big in the batter’s box, going 4-for-7 with a double, two runs scored and two stolen bases. The second baseman was a perfect 3-for-3 in the second game. Senior Ali Gardiner (Waccabuc, N.Y.) also had a big day, going 4-for-8 with three RBI.
In his fourth season with the Gators, Walton has collected 194 wins and only 54 losses. Former head coach Karen Johns registered a 192-131 record at the UF helm in her five years (2001-05).
Senior Stacey Nelson (Los Alamitos, Calif.) tallied 11 strikeouts, while allowing four hits in her seven-inning performance in game one. The righty (16-2) did not allow a walk in her 10th shutout of the season. The outing marked the fourth time this season Nelson registered double-figure strikeouts and the sixth time she did not walk a batter.
Nelson set the tone to begin the game, striking out the first three Lady Vols in the top of the first. Tennessee (24-5, 2-2 SEC) threatened score first in the third, advancing a runner to third with only one out. Ashley Andrews tried to bunt the runner home, but Nelson gloved the ball and flipped to senior battery mate Kristina Hilberth (Dunedin, Fla.) for out number two. Hilberth ended the inning by throwing out Andrews as she tried to swipe second.
In the bottom of the third, freshman Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) gave the ball a ride to deep right field to start the inning, but Nicole Kajitani made an amazing grab to thwart the Gator center fielder. Later in the inning, freshman Alicia Sisco (Cooper City, Fla.) and sophomore Kelsey Bruder (Corona, Calif.) both walked to put runners on first and second with two outs. Gardiner nailed a base hit through the left side and Sisco hustled around third to score the first run of the game. The Gators loaded the bases when junior Francesca Enea (Woodland Hills, Calif.) drew a full-count walk on the 14th pitch of her at bat. Brooks stepped up the plate and launched one over the left field fence for her third grand slam of the year. Brooks’s bomb chased Cat Hosfield from the game as the Lady Vols went to their bullpen for Ashton Ward.
The Gators added one more in the fourth with two outs. Sisco drew her second walk of the day and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Paculba then hit a long fly to center, which Kelly Grieve could not grab. Sisco tallied her second run of the game and gave UF a 6-0 lead.
Hilberth drove in her fifth run in the last seven games in the sixth, padding the Gators’ lead. Gardiner began the inning with a hard-hit single to right center. Freshman Lauren Heil (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) came in to pinch run and moved up 60 feet when Enea drew another 14-pitch walk. Heil scored when Hilberth chopped on up the middle for her first hit of the game.
The Lady Vols attempted to put some runs on the board in their final at bat. Lillian Hammond led off with a double to right center, followed by a Tiffany Huff single, which moved Hammond to third. Jessica Spigner grounded out to sophomore shortstop Megan Bush (Anaheim Hills, Calif.), who held Hammond on third before making the throw to first. With both runners in scoring position, Nelson recorded her 11th strikeout and then forced a ground out to second to end the game.
Hosfield (17-4) shouldered the loss for the Lady Vols, allowing two hits, four walks and five earned runs in her 2.2 innings. Ward gave up five hits, two runs and walked two in 3.1 innings.
Sophomore Stephanie Brombacher (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) tallied her 15th win of the season in a two-hit performance in game two. The righty (15-0) struck out nine and walked one as she improved her career record to 35-0.
The Gators were the first to score again as they tallied one run with two outs in second. Sisco recorded her second RBI of the season as Hilberth, who singled up the middle earlier in the inning, scored from third. Gardiner recorded an RBI in the third when Paculba, who lined a single over the shortstop’s head, crossed the plate on Gardiner’s grounder.
Brooks knocked her second home run of the day in the fifth, launching a solo shot to dead center. Bush continued the trend, knocking one over the left field fence in the very next at bat.
The Gators tallied three more in the sixth, all with two outs. Sisco chopped one up the middle and Paculba followed with a chop single past the shortstop to put runners on first and second. Bruder drove the two in with a long double off the wall in center. Gardiner followed with a double of her own to left center, scoring Bruder.
After allowing her second single of the day in the fourth, Brombacher recorded seven straight outs, including two K’s. She finished the game with two strikeouts, as she tallied her 10th shutout of the season.
The Gators wrap up the series with the Lady Vols on Sunday, March 22 with a 1 p.m. matchup.