Sunday March 28, 2010No. 6 Softball Defeat No. 5 Alabama, 11-9, to Take the Series
Led by senior Corrie Brooks’s (Christmas, Fla.) two home runs, the No. 6/13 Florida defeated No. 5/7 Alabama in the rubber match on Sunday afternoon to take the conference series at the UA Softball Complex.
Propelled by four home runs, including back-to-back solo shots in the top of the seventh to take the lead in a tie ball game, the Gators (23-4, 6-2 SEC) came away with their sixth win over the Tide (24-9, 7-4 SEC) in the last eight meetings between the squads.
Freshman Ensley Gammel (Bakersfield, Calif.) earned the win, improving to 4-0 on the season as the righty pitched the last 1.2 innings, allowing two hits, one run, no walks and striking out one. Junior Stephanie Brombacher (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) started for UF, going 5.1 innings, allowing nine hits, eight runs, four earned, four walks and striking out one.
The Tide used three different pitchers as Amanda Locke (3-2) shouldered the loss. Kelsi Dunne made the start and pitched 2.2 innings allowed one hit, four runs, two earned, four walks and struck out five. Locke pitched 2.1 innings, allowed four hits, two runs and struck out one.
Brooks hit her fifth career grand slam in the third, tallying Florida’s fifth grand slam off Alabama in the last three years. The third baseman then recorded the gamewinner in the top of the seventh with the game tied at nine apiece, becoming the fifth Gator to hit two bombs in the same game for the seventh time this season.
Junior Megan Bush (Anaheim Hills, Calif.) extended her career-long hit streak to 11 games with a single in the sixth inning while Brooks and junior Tiffany DeFelice (Coral Springs, Fla.) led the way going 2-for-3 on the day as Brooks tallied a team-high five RBIs.
Senior Francesca Enea (Woodland Hills, Calif.) started the Gators off early with a solo shot to dead center field with two outs in the first, bringing her career home run total to 55, five off the Southeastern Conference all-time record set by Alabama’s Kelly Kretschman (1998-01).
Alabama quickly took the lead in the bottom of the inning as Kayla Braud led off with a double to right center. With one down, Brombacher walked Charlotte Morgan and both runners advanced on an illegal pitch. Brombacher forced the next batter to line out, but the tying run came in when Alex Blewitt reached first on Brombacher’s fielding error and Braud crossed the plate. Jazlyn Lunceford then gave the Tide a 4-1 lead with a three-run homer to right before Brombacher got the final out swinging to end the inning.
The Gators tied the game in the second with patience at the plate and a key Bama error. Dunne walked four batters, forcing in a Gator run in to cut the lead to two and chasing the UA righty from the game. Morgan came in to replace her. With two down, Bruder hit a high fly ball right off the infield grass that left fielder Lunceford dropped, allowing DeFelice and Brooks to score and even the contest a four apiece.
After a 1-2-3 bottom of the second, Brooks put the Gators back on top with one swing of the bat, tallying her first career grand slam of the season. Freshman Brittany Schutte (Fountain Valley, Calif.) drew her second walk of the game and sophomore Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) and DeFelice followed with singles to load the bases for Brooks, who was hitless in the last nine games. The third baseman launched one just fair of the left-field foul pole to give the Gators an 8-4 lead.
The Tide got one back in the bottom of the inning as Cassie Reilly-Boccia led off with a double to right and then moved to third on an illegal pitch. After Brombacher walked Morgan and forced a ground out, Blewitt singled up the middle to score Reilly-Boccia, but was thrown out trying to advance to second. Brombacher forced the final batter to ground out to end the inning and the Tide scoring threat.
The Gators added another run in the fourth as DeFelice tallied an RBI single. Enea drew a walk to lead things off and Moultrie grounded to short, which Whitney Larsen fumbled, allowing both runners to reach safely. DeFelice hit a bloop single to shallow left field and Enea hustled around third to cross the plate and give UF a 9-5 lead. The extra run also chased Morgan from the game and brought Locke in in relief, who was able to get Brooks swinging to end the inning.
The Tide threatened in the fourth, but stellar Gator defense kept Alabama off the board and preserved the four-run lead. Locke and Kendall Dawson hit back-to-back singles to center to start the inning but Jennifer Fenton hit one back to Brombacher, who threw to Brooks to get the lead runner at third. Braud singled up the middle, but Moultrie threw Dawson out at the plate trying to score from second for the center fielder’s second outfield assist of the game. Reilly-Boccia ended the inning when she grounded one back to Brombacher.
Alabama tied the game in the sixth when Braud hit a three-run bomb. Lunceford led off with a double to right center and Locke immediately drove in her with a double of her own. After a line out, pinch hitter Lauren Sewell walked and Gammel came in to pinch to Braud, who tied the game with a three-run shot to right center. The righty settled herself immediately and forced Reilly-Boccia and Morgan to ground out to keep it a tie game.
It only took one pitch for Brooks to give the Gators the eventual win, smashing the first one she saw over the right-field wall. Freshman Samantha Holle (Tampa, Fla.) gave the Gators some insurance as she followed her teammate with a solo shot of her own to dead center. Dunne reentered and retired the three UF batters she saw but Florida already had the two-run lead heading into the bottom of the seventh.
Gammel returned to the circle and got the first batter swinging to start the inning. Blewitt single through the left side and Lunceford reached on an error to put runners on first and second. Locke ended the game by grounding into a 6-4-3 double play as the Gators came away with the win.
Florida returns to action on Wednesday, March 31 at 7 p.m. (ET) when the Gators travel to Orlando, Fla., to take on UCF. The game will be broadcast on the Bright House Sports Channel and on WYGC-FM 105 The Game (104.9).