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Sunday March 13, 2011No. 1/2 Florida Softball Splits on Day Two of Under Armour Showcase

CLEARWATER, Fla.

The No. 1/2 Gator softball team split its Saturday games at the USF Under Armour Showcase, defeating Ball State, 21-0, in the early game, while falling , 1-0, to No. 16/20 Nebraska in the nightcap at the Eddie C. Moore Complex. The Gators improved to 24-1 on the season and tallied their 14th shutout of the year in game one. Florida’s 21 runs against Ball State marked the second-largest margin of victory in UF history, while its 17 walks in the match-up with the Cardinals were the second most next to the18 last weekend versus North Dakota State in the UF-hosted Lipton Invitational.

 

While the Gators tallied just their first loss of the season, freshman Hannah Rogers (Winter Haven, Fla.) (10-1) had a stellar outing against the Cornhuskers, tossing her ninth complete game of the season, pitching 7.0 innings, surrendering just one earned run on four hits while fanning three.

 

Rogers took the circle against No. 16/20 Nebraska and engaged in a pitcher’s duel with Nebraska hurler Ashley Hagemann. The first three Huskers reached base, with the third, catcher Taylor Edwards, lining an RBI single into left field, putting Nebraska up 1-0 with runners on second and third. The freshman righty buckled down, retiring the next three batters on groundouts to wiggle out of the jam without any further damage.

 

Both pitchers cruised, with Rogers settling in while Hagemann held Florida hitless, until each team created a scoring opportunity in the sixth inning.

 

The Cornhuskers threatened in the top half, putting their leadoff runner on courtesy of a single and then advancing her into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt but Rogers escaped unscathed, inducing a groundout and pop-up, both to senior Aja Paculba (Wildomar, Calif.) to quell the rally.

 

In the bottom of the sixth frame, sophomore Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville , Fla.) broke up Hagemann’s no-hit bid with a sharp single just out of the range of the second baseman, but the next three Gators could not reach base.

 

Rogers recorded a four-pitch seventh inning, keeping the Orange and Blue within one heading into the bottom half of the seventh. Down to its last three outs, Florida mounted a rally. Senior Megan Bush (Anaheim Hills, Calif.) began the bottom of the seventh with a laser over the head of Nebraska centerfielder Haget  that landed at the base of the fence for a leadoff double. After rightfielder Kelsey Horton (Valrico, Fla.) struck out swinging, shortstop Cheyenne Coyle (West Hills, Calif.) came to the dish. The Gator freshman roped a line drive to center that Husker’s centerfielder snared with a sliding catch. She then leaped to her feet and doubled-off pinch runner junior Ellie Langley (Spring Hill, Fla.) to end the game.

 

Hagemann (14-1) earned the win for Nebraska, throwing all seven innings without allowing a run, and conceded three walks and two hits.

 

In game one of the twinbill against Ball State, the Gators coupled a patient offense that drew 17 walks and blasted three bombs, including their fifth grand slam of the season, with five shutout innings – four from senior ace Stephanie Brombacher (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) and one from Rogers – to notch their 24th-consecutive victory, 21-0. Brombacher tallied the win for the Gators, her 14th of the season, going 4.0 innings, allowing just three hits, while striking out one and walking another.

 

The Gators got started right away, plating four runs in the top of the first inning. Moultrie deadened a bunt a few feet in front of the dish and beat it out. Paculba followed with a relentless at-bat, repeatedly pulling inside pitches foul until on the 14th pitch, belting her eighth homer of the season over the fence in right-center field to make it 2-0. Florida continued its assault as senior Kelsey Bruder (Corona, Calif.) worked the count full and then roped a single up the middle. Clean-up hitter sophomore Brittany Schutte (Fountain Valley, Calif.) roped a single up the middle. After a shallow flyout to right by Bush advanced both runners, Horton was plunked for the first time this season, loading the bases for Cheyenne Coyle. Coyle fell behind 0-2 but battled, eventually drawing a walk that scored Bruder. Designated player sophomore Ensley Gammel (Bakersfield, Calif.) followed with a sacrifice fly to left, easily scoring Schutte. Freshman Kasey Fagan (Dunnellon, Fla.) dropped a surprise bunt, catching the Ball State defense out of position to fill the bags again before Moultrie, in her second plate appearance of the frame, flew out to deep right center.

 

UF continued to create scoring opportunities with patience in the second. Paculba led off with a walk and after a Bruder fly out, Schutte smacked her second single of the game to center field. Bush earned a base on balls to pack the sacks. Horton took four balls to put Florida ahead 5-0. Coyle hit a sharp grounder to third that Cardinal third baseman Kate Wilczynski fielded. She fired home to get Schutte and catcher Sadie Robertson threw to first in an attempt to complete an inning-ending double play but the catch was misplayed, allowing Bush to scamper home.

 

Florida posted a crooked number for the third consecutive inning, tallying five runs – highlighted by Bush’s team-leading 10th four-bagger of the season – a three-run blast to extend the lead to 11-0. Moultrie was the catalyst, as she slapped a grounder to third and outran the throw. Paculba was hit by a pitch and after a passed ball advanced the runners to second and third, Bruder recorded Florida’s season-high third sacrifice fly of the contest to bring in Moultrie. Schutte reached base for the third straight time with a walk, before Bush sent a rise ball soaring over the center field fence. Coyle completed the scoring with an RBI-blooper singled down the left-field line that drove in Horton who reached by drawing a walk.

 

In the top of the fifth, Coyle poked her second single of the game to open the frame. Samantha Holle (Tampa, Fla.), Fagan and Ashley Snedeker (Bloomington, Minn.) all received free passes. Junior Lauren Heil (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) stepped to the plate and also walked, recording the first RBI of her career. After three more bases on balls, Coyle set a career high for hits in a single game and matched her career high of four RBI by delivering her third hit of the evening on an infield single that scored Florida’s 17th run. Gammel then cleared the bases with the first home run of her career to complete the scoring. Her grand slam was the fifth delivered by a Gator this season.

 

The 21 runs scored by UF marked the second-most in school history, while the combined shutout was Florida’s 14th of the campaign.

 

 

 

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