Saturday May 16, 2009No. 1 Softball Takes Down Texas A&M, 7-1, in Regional Action
Senior Stacey Nelson (Los Alamitos, Calif.) led No.1/1 University of Florida past Texas A&M with a season-high 14 strikeouts as the Gators earned a spot in the Regional finals with a 7-1 win.
Nelson (36-3) recorded her ninth double-digit strikeout game. The victory was the 131st in her career, giving her sole possession of the seventh spot in NCAA record books. She surpassed UCLA’s Keira Goerl (2001-04). Rhiannon Kliesing (32-21) shouldered the loss for the Aggies (32-20).
After Nelson struck out three of four of the batters she faced in the top of the first, the Gators took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the inning. Senior Kristina Hilberth (Dunedin, Fla.) smoked a double down the left-field line and sophomore Kelsey Bruder (Corona, Calif.) drove her home on a two-out single up the middle.
UF added another in the second. Sophomore Megan Bush (Anaheim Hills, Calif.) led off with a double to left center and sophomore Tiffany DeFelice (Coral Spring , Fla.) moved her to third on a sacrifice bunt. Sophomore Aja Paculba (Wildomar, Calif.) tallied her first hit of the game with a single to left to score Bush.
The Aggies threatened in the third by putting a runner on third. Natalie Villarreal singled up the middle with one out and advanced to third on Macie Morrow’s single through the right side. A quick throw by junior Corrie Brooks (Christmas, Fla.) to shortstop Bush got Morrow, who was trying to take second. Nelson got Erin Glasco swinging to keep Texas A&M scoreless.
The Aggies got on the board with their only run two innings later with two outs. After Nelson struck out the first two batters, Villarreal doubled to left. Morrow drove her teammate in with a double to center. Nelson forced Glasco to ground out to end the inning.
The Gators took back the run and added one more in the bottom of the inning. Paculba started the inning with a single up the middle. Hilberth reached on a chopper to short putting runners on first and second. Junior Francesca Enea (Woodland Hills, Calif) drove her second baseman in with a double to left center. Bruder tallied her fifth sac fly of the season to right field to bring Hilberth home for a 4-1 advantage.
Florid added three more in the sixth to solidify its win. DeFelice nailed a one-out single up the middle to start things off for the Gators. Senior Le-Net Franklin (Belton, Texas) came in to pinch run. Freshman Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) laid down a bunt single and catcher Glasco threw into the outfield as no one was covering the first-base bag. Franklin used her speed to score from first and Moultrie ended up on second. Hilberth tallied another chop single, beating the throw from the third baseman. With both runners in scoring position, senior Ali Gardiner (Waccabuc, N.Y.) tallied her first hit of the weekend, a hard-hit ball to third to score both her teammates.
The Aggies put runners on second and third in the top of the seventh as they tried to rally back. Orsak drew a full-count walk and Morrow hit a double to center, but Nelson got Glasco looking to end the game.
The Gators will take on the winner of the third game of the day on Sunday, May 17 at 1 p.m.
Head Coach Tim Walton
On getting on the board early: “Anytime you are playing a good team, it’s always nice to put them on their heels early. Scoring two runs in the first two innings, both with two outs, was big for us today. We knew that they were going to score some runs. It was very important to score early.”
On whether this win was more gratifying since it came against Texas A&M: “All wins mean the same. This one isn’t extra important because of our history with them. It doesn’t really matter who we are playing. As long as we keep doing what we need to be doing, we should be fine.”
On the team’s defensive performance: “I thought we played as good of defense today as we have all year long. We didn’t turn the flashy plays, but we turned the heads-up plays. We were in the right spots, we made the right throws and the back-ups were where they needed to be.”
Senior Catcher Kristina Hilberth
On getting the offense going: “[Rhiannon Kliesing] is a good pitcher. She was hitting her spots. We had to make adjustments to get hits later in the game and I thought that we did that.”
On answering when Texas A&M scored: “We don’t want our opponents to get comfortable. When they score, we want to come back and start chipping away. We’ve been fortunate enough to respond in the last few games. We want to give our pitcher runs to make her more comfortable.”
Senior Pitcher Stacey Nelson
On her performance: “They found ways to get on base. They got hits to both left and right field. As a pitcher, I’m not happy about nine hits and a run. But the offense scored seven, which made up for it.”