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Wednesday June 3, 2009No. 1 Softball Ends Season as WCWS Runner-Up

Oklahoma City, Okla.

No. 1/1 University of Florida fell to No. 3/4 Washington, 3-2, in the second game of the Women’s College World Series to end the Gators’ (63-5) season.  The 2009 team set 39 records during their first-ever run to the WCWS championship series. 


Senior Stacey Nelson (Los Alamitos, Calif.) struck out five and allowed one walk and six hits in her 6.0 innings.  She ended her career with 136 wins which was sixth in NCAA record books, second in Southeastern Conference history and first in the Florida books.  Her 1,116 career strikeouts ranked fourth in SEC history and first at UF. 


Nelson and sophomore Megan Bush (Anaheim Hills, Calif.) were named to the WCWS All-Tournament team for their performances.  Nelson tallied 36 strikeouts in 30 innings.  She allowed 22 hits, only two for extra-bases hits, both doubles.  Bush recorded three hits, two for home runs, including the game-winner against Michigan. 


Danielle Lawrie, the WCWS MVP, earned both win against the Gators.  She struck out eight on the night and allowed seven hits and one earned run.  The Huskies (51-12) earned their first-ever national title.


The Gators took the lead early, tallying two runs in the first to start the game.  Sophomore Aja Paculba (Wildomar, Calif.) led off with a triple to center field and then scored on passed ball on the very next pitch.  Senior Kristina Hilberth (Dunedin, Fla.) reached on an error by the shortstop and moved to second an infield single to third by junior Francesca Enea (Woodland Hills, Calif.).  After a double steal, both Gators moved into scoring position.  Sophomore Kelsey Bruder (Corona, Calif.) drew a walk to load the bases and Bush recorded her second sacrifice fly of the season to bring Hilberth home.


The Huskies evened the score in the bottom of the inning.  They tallied two singles before Nelson got Jennifer Salling looking.  Lawrie singles through the right side to score one and move a runner to third.  A wild pitch tied the score at two apiece.  Nelson forced the next two Huskies to ground out to end the inning.


Washington took the lead in the third loading the bases with only one out on an error and two singles.  Morgan Stuart hit a dribbler back to the mound, which Nelson could not pick up to score Kimi Pohlman to give the Huskies a 3-2 advantage.


The Gators got runners into scoring position in the fourth, but could not plate a run.  Senior Ali Gardiner (Waccabuc, N.Y.) led off with a single up the middle and junior Corrie Brooks (Christmas, Fla.) laid down a sacrifice bunt to move senior pinch runner Danyell Hines (Bryan, Texas) to second.  Freshman Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) then singled up the middle to put runners at the corners.  The center fielder eventually stole second, but Lawrie got Paculba to ground out on a good fielding play by shortstop Salling.   


Florida held off Washington in the fourth and then loaded the bases in the fifth.  Hilberth led off with an infield single, reaching base for the third time.  Enea bunted her over and Bruder reached on a line drive to third that Stuart misplayed.  Gardiner drew a two-out walk to load the bases, but Lawrie worked through the jam, getting Brooks looking.


Enea tallied a one-out double that hit the left-field wall in the seventh.  Bruder drew a walk to put runners on first and second.  Lawrie struck out the final two Gators to end the game and give the Huskies the championship.


Florida ended the season with a .323 batting average, a .543 slugging percentage and .423 on-base percentage, all bests in UF history.  Three Gators recorded eight single-season records, including runs (69, Paculba), home runs (18, Enea) and slugging percentage (.713, Bruder).  The senior class set 17 individual career records in their four years.


Fans can greet the Gators when they return to Gainesville at the Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, June 3. 


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