Saturday April 4, 2009Bruder's Walk-Off Grand Slam Leads No. 1 Softball in Doubleheader Sweep of Mississippi State
Sophomore Kelsey Bruder (Corona, Calif.) smashed her first career grand slam with two down in the bottom of the seventh to lift No. 1/1 University of Florida over Mississippi State, 6-2, in the second game of the doubleheader. The Gators (38-3, 17-1 SEC) took game one as well, 11-2, in five innings as they tallied 13 hits off the Bulldogs (17-19, 2-12 SEC).
Senior Stacey Nelson (Los Alamitos, Calif.) earned two more victories, improving her season record to 22-3. The righty tallied 10 strikeouts in as the game-one starter, marking the sixth time this season she recorded double-digit K’s.
Bruder led the way in both games, going 3-for-5 on the day with six RBI, two runs scored and was hit twice. Sophomores Aja Paculba (Wildomar, Calif.) and Tiffany DeFelice (Coral Springs, Fla.) both recorded 4-for-7 performances batting in the one and two spots.
Nelson got the first three Bulldogs swinging to begin game one. Her team gave her a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Paculba started things off with a single to center and was followed with a DeFelice base hit to left. With two down, Bruder singled to center to score Paculba and give the Gators the lead.
Florida put together a big second inning, all with two outs. Sophomore Megan Bush (Anaheim Hills, Calif.) began with a single through the left side and stole second to put herself in scoring position. She moved to third on a grounder to the shortstop by senior Kristina Hilberth (Dunedin, Fla.). Bush scored on a Paculba single to the second baseman, who stopped the ball but could not make the play. DeFelice followed it up with a single of her own to left field. Senior Ali Gardiner (Waccabuc, N.Y.) reached on an error to load the bases and junior Francesca Enea (Woodland Hills, Calif.) drew a walk to score Pacubla. Bruder was hit by a pitch to score DeFelice and then junior Corrie Brooks (Christmas, Fla.) knocked in two with a single to center. Bush finished off the inning with a three-run shot over the left field fence to bring the Gators’ run total to nine.
UF added two to its lead in the third with four straight singles. Hilberth started the inning with a chopper up the middle. Paculba and DeFelice followed with base hits to load the bases. Gardiner came through with her first hit of the day to score Hilberth and Paculba.
The Bulldogs got two back in the fourth as Ka’ili Smith started the inning with a double. Sammie Jo Bailey drove her in with a single. Mississippi State followed with two singles to load the bases. Nelson got Courtney Nesbit swinging but Bailey scored on a wild pitch. Another strikeout and a ground out to second ended the inning and the MSU scoring threat.
Holding onto the nine-run lead in the top of the fifth, Nelson struck out one and forced two to ground out to end the game. Overall, she allowed two earned runs, walked two and allowed five hits. Kelsey Nurnberg (8-6) shouldered the loss for the Bulldogs, allowing four earned runs, 11 hits and one walk.
Sophomore Stephanie Brombacher (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) got the nod in game two. The Gators got on the board in the second when Brooks smoked a double to left center to score Enea, who earned a walk to start the inning.
The Bulldogs took the lead in the top of the third, scoring two. With runners at the corners, Chelsea Bramlett attempted the steal to second, but was caught in a pickle. Shortstop Bush overthrew Paculba covering second and pinch runner Allie Heon hustled home from third. Smith recorded an RBI on a single to bring Bramlett in and give MSU a 2-1 lead.
Mississippi State threatened again in the sixth. Brombacher hit Brittany Bell to start the inning. Smith doubled to put runners in scoring position. Head coach Tim Walton brought Nelson in to relieve Brombacher. Hilberth caught Smith halfway down the third baseline for the first out and Nelson took care of Bailey with a groundout. She then struck out Ali Bainbridge to end the inning and leave one stranded.
Nelson struck out the side in the top of the seventh to keep the deficit only one. With one out, Hilberth started the rally with a pop single over the shortstop’s head, who tried to make the play, but dropped the ball. Paculba singled to put runners on first and second. DeFelice grounded to second for a fielder’s choice as Paculba was thrown out and Hilberth moved to third. Gardiner tied the game on a single to center as Hilberth crossed the plate. Enea was intentionally walked to load the bases. Bruder came through with a full-count grand slam to right field, her 10th long ball of the season. It marked the second time this season the Gators won the game in their last at bat and the first time with a walk-off homer since Gardiner launched one against South Carolina on March 26, 2008.
Nelson struck out four without allowing a walk or run in her two innings of relief. Brombacher whiffed seven while walking one and allowing one earned run. Lindsey Dunlap (9-11) recorded the loss, striking out five and walking five while allowing seven UF hits.
The Gators conclude the series with Mississippi State tomorrow, Sunday at 1 p.m. at Katie Seahole Pressly Stadium.