Wednesday March 9, 2011No. 1/2 Florida Softball Takes Two from No. 21 LSU to Open SEC Play in Baton Rouge
Five home runs, including four in the top of the seventh inning of the first game of the SEC-opening doubleheader, helped propel the No. 1/2 Gator softball squad to two wins on the road against No. 21 LSU Wednesday at Tiger Park. Florida improved to 21-0, its best start in program history, while kicking off the Southeastern Conference slate 2-0 with 8-1 and 5-0 victories over the Tigers. The Orange and Blue additionally improved to 7-0 against Top 25 opponents this season. Florida has out-scored its opposition, 175-21, and has dropped 41 home runs in 2011. The Tigers moved to 15-7 (0-2 SEC).
Senior Megan Bush (Anaheim Hills, Calif.) accounted for two of Florida’s five home runs, her seventh and eighth of the season, sending one over the fence in the sixth inning and one in the seventh of the first game of the doubleheader with LSU. Bush went 4-for-6 with two home runs, a double, three runs scored and two RBI on the two-game night.
Senior ace Stephanie Brombacher (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) got the start in the second game of the doubleheader and tossed her ninth career one-hitter and sixth shutout to improve to 12-0 this season. Brombacher pitched the full 7.0 innings, allowed just the one hit, while striking out eight. LSU’s Brittany Mack (5-2) chalked up the loss for the Tigers, allowing 10 hits, five runs and two walks in 7.0 innings. Mack additionally struck out six.
Freshman righty Hannah Rogers (Lake Wales, Fla.) tallied the first victory of the night for the Gators in the 8-1 win, adding her ninth victory of the season, remaining undefeated. Rogers gave up just one run and three hits in 7.0 innings of work, while striking out three. Rachele Fico (5-5) shouldered the loss for the Purple and Gold, giving up 10 hits and six runs and striking out three in 6.1 innings of work.
Florida put one up in the top of the third in the first game of the doubleheader as freshman Cheyenne Coyle (West Hills, Calif.) got the Gators started with a base hit straight past Fico. Classmate Kasey Fagan (Dunnellon, Fla.) laid down a bunt, but reached on a fielder’s choice as Coyle was eliminated at second base, turning over the batting lineup for the Orange and Blue and bringing up junior Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.), who tallied a base hit of her own to advance Fagan. Moultrie proceeded to steal second, while senior Aja Paculba (Wildomar, Fla.) chalked up an RBI when Fagan scored on a Paculba groundout to second base.
Sophomore Brittany Schutte (Fountain Valley, Calif.) started the Gators off right in the top of the fourth with a leadoff double to left center and a Kelsey Horton (Valrico, Fla.) base hit followed to score Schutte. It wasn’t until the bottom of the fifth that the Tigers got on the board. With bases loaded, a Tiffany Shaw single through the left side brought home Jacee Blades, who reached on a fielder’s choice to short, to narrow the margin, 2-1.
From then on, it was all Gators as a total of five Orange and Blue home runs filled the sixth and seventh innings. Bush clocked a solo shot over the left center fence to take Florida up, 3-1, after the top half of the sixth inning, while Fagan turned the lineup over, yet again, with her second career long ball in the same location to lead off the top half of the seventh and give UF a 4-1 advantage. Florida continued with the momentum after a Moultrie bunt single, setting up a Bruder two-run homer to right center, the second home run of the inning, to chase Fico from the circle. With a full count and a new pitcher, Meghan Patterson, Schutte dropped the third homer of the inning to the center field, while Bush followed for back-to-back-to-back homers with a bomb to left field, her second of the evening.
After a scoreless three innings in game two, Florida came up big with a two-out rally in the top of the fourth inning, putting four runs on the board, starting with the bottom of the lineup. Fagan got the ball rolling with a hard-hit dart down the left-field line to bring in two runs, sophomore Ensley Gammel (Bakersfield, Calif.), who reached on a single to left field, and Coyle, who drew a walk. With the top of the batting order at the plate, both Moultrie and Paculba capitalized on doubles, Moultrie bringing home Fagan and Paculba driving in Moultrie.
The Gators added the fifth and final run of the second game with two outs in the fifth inning following a double by Bush to right center that brought up Horton, who singled to right center and took an extra base on the throw home. Gammel followed up and laid down a sacrifice bunt for the second out, to score Bush. Coyle grounded out to end the inning, but Brombacher retired the final nine batters, three by strikeout, to send UF back to the Sunshine State with two SEC road wins.
The Gators will head directly from Baton Rouge to Clearwater, Fla., for the USF Under Armour Showcase, its second three-day tournament hosted by South Florida. UF will match up with UConn, Robert Morris, Ball State, Nebraska and USF starting Friday at the Eddie C. Moore Complex. For all recaps and statistics following each day of the tournament, visit www.GatorZone.com.