Saturday April 18, 2009No. 1 Softball Clinches Second Straight SEC Title With Doubleheader Win Over No. 18 LSU
Baton Rouge, La.
Baton Rouge, La.
No. 1/1 University of Florida shutout No. 18/19 LSU, 3-0 and 1-0, in Saturday’s doubleheader in front of 1,679 fans at Tiger Park, the third-largest crowd in LSU history. Head coach Tim Walton recorded his first two wins against the Tigers (27-12-1, 10-8-1 SEC) in Baton Rouge, La., as the Gators (45-3, 22-1 SEC) clinched their second-straight Southeastern Conference title and third in program history.
In game one, senior Stacey Nelson (Los Alamitos, Calif.) struck out six and allowed five hits in her 23rd complete game. The righty (26-3) only walked one in her 14th shutout of the season.
Junior Francesca Enea (Woodland Hills, Calif.) gave the Gators a 2-0 lead in their first at bat with a two-out, first-pitch home run over the left-field wall. Even with the wind blowing in, the left fielder managed to line a strike over the wall, scoring senior Ali Gardiner (Waccabuc, N.Y.), who hit a single to center.
Nelson struck out all three in the bottom of the second to keep the Gators rolling. Florida then added another run in the fourth with some small ball. Junior Corrie Brooks (Christmas, Fla.) drew a lead-off walk and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by sophomore Megan Bush (Anaheim Hills, Calif.). Senior Kristina Hilberth (Dunedin, Fla.) nailed a single to center to move Brooks 60 feet from home. Freshman Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) hit a perfect sac fly to right field to bring Brooks in on her 15th RBI on the season.
With out one and one on in the sixth, sophomore right fielder Kelsey Bruder (Corona, Calif.) hustled to the gap in right center to catch Juliana Santos’s fly ball and keep LSU scoreless. The Tigers put their first runner on third in the bottom of the seventh. Ashley Applegate started the inning with a single through the left side. Anissa Young grounded to third to move her teammate into scoring position. Nelson got the next Tiger to pop out, but Casey Faile hit a bouncer back to Nelson, which took a bad hop and put runners at the corners. Third baseman Brooks made a lunging catch in foul territory to end the game and give UF its 26th shutout of the season.
The Gators saw three different LSU pitchers in the first game. Starter Cody Trahan (7-4) gave up three runs on four hits and three walks in her four innings of work. Brittany Mack pitched two innings of relief, striking out one and walking one while Faile was in the circle for the final inning and allowed one walk.
Sophomore Stephanie Brombacher (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) recorded her 19th win of the season and improved her career record to 39-0 with the game-two win. Nelson recorded her third save of the season, pitching the final inning. Mack (11-3) registered the loss for the Tigers.
Hilberth drove in the only run of the game in the fourth with two outs. Bruder led off with a single up the middle. Bush laid down her second sac bunt of the day to move her teammate over. Hilberth chopped one up the middle to score a hustling Bruder and tally her 17th RBI of the season.
The Gators threatened in the first, but could not come up with any runs. Gardiner drew a two-out walk and Enea was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second. They both moved up on a wild pitch and Bruder walked to load the bases. Mack forced Brooks to ground out to third to end the inning.
A close play at the plate was almost a run for UF in the second. Bush doubled to deep center and senior Danyell Hines (Bryan, Texas) came in to pinch run. She advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Hilberth. Moultrie nailed a grounder to shortstop Santos, who made a diving stop and threw home to get a sliding Hines at the plate.
Nelson came in to save the game for the Gators in the seventh. She struck out the first two batters and sealed the UF win and SEC title by forcing Morgan Russell to ground out to Brooks.
Brombacher allowed only two hits in her six-inning performance while striking out four. She gave up three walks in her 13th shutout. Florida has not allowed a run to cross the plate in the last five games.
The Gators conclude the series with the Tigers on Sunday, April 19 at 2 p.m. (ET). Fans who subscribe to Gator Vision can log on to see the series finale.