Sunday May 17, 2009No. 1 Softball Wins Gainesville Regional to Advance to Super Regionals
No. 1/1 University of Florida defeated Lehigh, 9-0, to move on to the Super Regionals in NCAA Tournament play on Sunday afternoon at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium. In the process, the Gators (58-3) broke the Southeastern Conference’s single-season home run record, as junior Corrie Brooks (Christmas, Fla.) nailed UF’s 80th of the season.
Senior Stacey Nelson (Los Alamitos, Calif.) earned her 19th shutout of the season while only allowing three hits in the contest. The righty (37-3) did not allow a walk for the 11th game. Lisa Sweeney (23-10) took the loss for the Mountain Hawks (38-18-1).
The Gators broke the scoreless tie in the fourth with two runs. Senior Kristina Hilberth (Dunedin, Fla.) started things off with a double to left center. Classmate Ali Gardiner (Waccabuc, N.Y.) grounded to second to move her catcher to third. Junior Francesca Enea (Woodland Hills, Calif.) doubled to center to bring Hilberth in and score UF’s first run. Sophomore Kelsey Bruder (Corona, Calif.) followed a single to right to score Enea from second.
Florida added four more in the sixth. Sophomore Aja Paculba (Wildomar, Calif.) drew a lead-off walk and Hilberth moved her to second with a single up the middle. Gardiner grounded to second again to move Paculba to third. Freshman Lauren Heil (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) came in to pinch run for Gardiner and immediately stole second to put two Gators scoring position. Enea walked on a full count to load the bases for Bruder. The right fielder came through with another single to right, this time scoring Paculba and Heil. With two down, Brooks nailed her 11th bomb of the season to clear the bases and give the Gators a 6-0 lead.
Paculba has tallied 64 runs this season, breaking Florida’s single-season record, which was set by current senior Kim Waleszonia (Fontana, Calif.) last season with 62.
The Gators did not led up, adding three more in the top of the seventh. Freshman Alicia Sisco (Cooper City, Fla.) led off with a pinch-hit double to center. With one down, Paculba tallied an RBI on a single to center, scoring Sisco from second. Two more singles by Gardiner and Enea loaded the bases for Bruder. She came through again, this time with a two-out double to center, scoring two more Gators and taking the nine-run advantage.
Bruder led the way for the Gators in Regional play, tallying a .556 average with five hits, two runs, two doubles and eight RBI. Paculba also recorded a .556 average with five hits and five runs and five RBI. Hilberth went 6-for-11 with six runs scored and two doubles. Nelson earned two victories while ringing up 21 batters. Sophomore Stephanie Brombacher (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) shut out Florida A&M in the first game of the Regional, recording seven strikeouts and allowing only two hits.
The Gators will take on California for the second consecutive year in the Super Regionals. California beat Oklahoma State, 2-1, in the Tallahassee Regional to advance. Dates and times will be releases as soon as possible; check www.gatorzone.com for the most up-to-date information.
Senior Pitcher Lisa Sweeney
“They are the number one team for a reason. We played well, but the way they swing the bats one-through-nine, we knew that we were going to have to put up some runs.”
Lehigh Head Coach Fran Troyan
“We had a chance to put some pressure on them after getting a couple of early hits. We made some mistakes, like over-sliding on the steal attempt at second. That could have helped us put some pressure on them. Like Lisa (Sweeney) said, they are the number one team for a reason and we knew we were going to have to play a flawless game to stay competitive.”
“We got some early hits on Stacey (Nelson), but after the third inning she was unhittable. Florida is a very good team and Nelson is a very good pitcher.”
“She (Lisa Sweeney) was mixing it up really well so my approach was to sit back in the middle and let her mix in the change up.”
Sophomore Utility Player Kelsey Bruder
“You can savor the win for the rest of the day, but Tuesday we’re back to work preparing for the NCAA Super Regionals.”
Senior Pitcher Stacey Nelson
“Lehigh is a different team so we had to take a different approach. I just tried to give up less hits, especially when our team put up some runs on the board. I tried to give the team momentum.”
Junior Left Fielder Francesca Enea
“She (Lisa Sweeney) was really good. She definitely did a great job of keeping us down in hits during the first few innings. We just made some quality adjustments and were able to get the hits and runs that we needed when we needed them.”
Head Coach Tim Walton
“Initially we had to move up into the batter’s box a little bit, to try and take away her (Lisa Sweeney) spin and her speed. It wasn’t working at all. She has a very awkward delivery. When she separates her hands, she doesn’t pause but she moves very slowly. We were getting on our front foot a little bit and transferring our weight a little bit early. We started moving back in the box and gave ourselves a little bit more time. We did a good job moving back in the box which gave us more starting time.”
“She’s (Stacey Nelson) really good. We actually made better adjustments too with the coaching staff and the pitching staff. Stacey started throwing change ups early in the game and that wasn’t working for us. We ended up going more with the screwball and dropball and started to really tie their hands.”
“Stacey is seventh all-time in the NCAA in wins, so she knows what it’s like to have that killer instinct. She really feels it and gets after it. She’s been awesome for us.”