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Saturday March 27, 2010No. 6 Softball Splits with No. 5 Alabama

Tuscaloosa, Ala.

The No. 6/13 University of Florida softball team split an afternoon doubleheader, 10-4 and 7-5, with No. 7/5 Alabama as the Gators won second game in dramatic fashion as junior Aja Paculba (Wildomar, Calif.) hit the game-winning home run in the top of the eighth inning. 

 

Junior Stephanie Brombacher (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) earned one win and one loss, dropping the first game, but coming in to win the second for the Gators (22-4, 5-2 SEC), who tallied their first win against a ranked team. 

 

Junior Megan Bush (Anaheim Hills, Calif.) led the way for Florida, going 3-for-6 on the day and extending her hit streak to a career-long 10 games.  Freshman Brittany Schutte (Fountain Valley, Calif.) led the team with five RBIs, including a three-run homer that brought the Gators within one in the second game in the sixth inning. 

 

An eight-run fifth inning propelled the Tide to the 10-4 victory in the first game as Brombacher went 4.2 innings, gave up five hits, eight runs, five walks and struck out three.  While the righty (18-4) started out strong, allowing only one run, three hits and six base runners through the first four innings, she gave up seven runs and four walks in the fifth. 

 

Kelsi Dunne (12-4) recorded the win for the Tide (24-8, 7-3 SEC), going 6.1 innings, allowing three hits, four runs, two earned and striking out seven.  She walked seven Gators. 

 

Alabama struck first, tallying one run in the first.  Kayla Braud led off for the Tide with an infield single to shortstop Bush, whose throw pulled first baseman Schutte off the bag, which advanced Braud to second.  Cassie Reilly-Boccia laid down a sacrifice bunt to move her teammate to second.  Brombacher hit the next two batters to load the bases and Amanda Locke hit a sacrifice fly to center to score the first run of the game.

 

The Gators took the lead the following half inning, scoring two with two outs on a Paculba two-run single.  Bush started the inning by striking out, but reached first on a passed ball.  Schutte then hit a high pop up that first baseman Locke misplayed then overthrew second to allow Gators on first and second with no outs.  Junior Tiffany DeFelice (Coral Springs, Fla.) laid down a sacrifice bunt to move both teammates into scoring position and senior Corrie Brooks (Christmas, Fla.) walked to load the bases.  After a strikeout, Paculba laced one to right field, plating Bush and Schutte and giving the Gators a 2-1 lead.

 

Florida added two more to its lead in the third, taking a 4-1 advantage.  Senior Francesca Enea (Woodland Hills, Calif.) led off with a walk and Bush moved her to third with a double down the left-field line.  Schutte then drove both her teammates in with a double to center. 

 

The Tide regained the lead in the bottom of the fifth, scoring eight runs off three hits.  Facing the top of the order, Brombacher started off with two straight walks to put runners on a first and second with no outs.  Charlotte Morgan brought the Tide within one with a double to center, scoring both teammates.  After walking Whitney Larsen, Brombacher got the next batter swinging for the first out of the inning.  With Locke at the plate, Brombacher threw an illegal pitch to move both runners into scoring position.  Locke then singled to center, past the diving freshman Brittany Walker (Tomball, Texas), to bring in the tying run.  Jazlyn Lunceford then tallied a sac fly to give Alabama the lead.  Pinch hitter Olivia Gibson walked and Jennifer Fenton reached on a Paculba fielding error, which brought freshman Erin Schuppert (Atlantic Beach, Fla.) in to pitch on a 2-0 count to Braud, who drew the walk to load the bases.  Reilly-Boccia then earned a free pass on a walk offf Schuppert to bring in another Tide run.  Morgan then single through the ride side to score two more.  After hitting a batter to reload the bases, Schuppert struck one out swinging to get the final out of the inning. 

 

In the bottom of the sixth with one down, Lunceford hit a solo shot to give the Tide a 10-4 lead. 

 

The Gators loaded the bases in the top of the seventh, but could not plate any runs.  With one down, Bruder and Bush walked, which brought Lauren Sewell in to pitch.  Schutte smacked a line drive right at the short stop for the second out, but Sewell hit DeFelice to load the bases for Brooks.  The senior grounded out to end the game, giving the Tide the 10-4 win. 

 

Freshman Ensley Gammel (Bakersfield, Calif.) started the second game against the Tide’s Morgan.  The Gators tallied 11 hits in the contest as eight of the nine starters recorded at least one hit and three tallied two, including Bush, who went 2-for-3, and Paculba, who scored two runs as well.

 

Florida came alive in the late innings, scoring all its runs in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings to hand Lauren Sewell (7-1) her first loss of the season.  

 

The Tide took an early two-run lead in the bottom of the first as Braud started things off with a single up the middle and Reilly-Boccia followed with a long single off the top of the center-field wall, moving Braud to third.  A wild pitch scored Braud and moved Reilly-Boccia to second, who then advanced to third on another wild pitch by Gammel.  Morgan drew a walk to put runners on the corners.  Larsen hit a chopper to short, which was misplayed by shortstop Walker to score Reilly-Boccia.  Blewitt then lined one back at Walker, who threw to catch Morgan off the bag at second. Paculba turned and threw to Bush at first to get Larsen diving back to first.  It marked UF’s first triple play since April 21, 1999. 

 

The Tide added two more in the second, increasing the lead to 4-0.  With one down, Locke hit a chopper back up the middle.  Junior right fielder Kelsey Bruder (Corona, Calif.) then robbed Kendall Dawson of a homer, jumping and catching one at the wall.  Fenton reached on an error by Walker and Braud hit a triple to deep center, clearing the bases and giving the Tide the four-run advantage. 

 

The Tide threatened to add to its lead in the fifth, but the Gator defense kept Bama off the board.  Reilly-Boccia led off with a walk and Keima Davis came in to pinch run and stole second to put herself in scoring position. Morgan drew her third walk of the game, which brought Brombacher in to pitch.  Larsen moved both runners over on a sac bunt, but the next batter flied out for the second out.  DeFelice ended the inning when she picked off Davis at third. 

 

The Gators pulled within one in the sixth off Schutte’s seventh home run of the season.  Enea reached on a one-out single through the left side and then hustled to third when Bush recorded an infield single to the third baseman.  Schutte launched one over the right center-field fence for a three-run shot, bringing the score 4-3 in favor of Alabama.  After a DeFelice single, Sewell relieved Morgan in the circle to finish out the inning.

 

After a 1-2-3 bottom of the inning, the Gators came back to take the lead in the top of the seventh.  Walker led off with an infield single, using her speed to beat the throw at first.  After fouling off five pitches, Paculba hit a 3-2 pitch to left for a single, putting two on with no outs.  Both runners moved up when the ball bounced off the catcher’s glove and Moultrie drove them in on a double to center for her second hit of the day, giving Florida the 5-4 lead.

 

Alabama tied the game in the bottom of the inning to send it to extras.  Brombacher got the first batter swinging, but Braud reached on a bunt single and advanced when Reilly-Boccia drew a walk.  Morgan singled to right drive in the tying run before the Gator pitcher could force two pop outs for the final outs.

 

Paculba regained the Gator lead in the top of the eighth with a two-run shot over the center-field fence.  Walker had earned a free pass when she was hit by a pitch. 

 

Brombacher preserved the 7-5 win in the bottom of the inning, starting with a swinging strikeout.  Locke got abroad with double to left and moved to third on an illegal pitch.  The righty earned the win by forcing a line out to Walker and a fly ball to Moultrie in center, ending the game.

 

The two teams play the rubber match on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. (ET), which will be televised on ESPNU and broadcast on WYGC-FM 105 The Game (104.9).  Live stats will be available on www.GatorZone.com.  

 

 

 

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