Wednesday March 16, 2011No. 2/3 Gator Softball Sweeps Mississippi State in Conference Home Opener
The No. 2/3 Florida softball team opened conference play at home with two definitive wins over Mississippi State, 8-0 and 18-1, at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium Wednesday. Seniors Megan Bush (Anaheim Hills, Calif.) and Kelsey Bruder (Corona, Calif.) led the charge as Bush connected for Florida’s sixth grand slam of the season in the first game to contribute to a career-long 16-game hit streak that ties the program record. Bruder hit a long ball in each game, going 6-for-7 on the night with six runs and nine RBI.
Freshman righty Hannah Rogers (Lake Wales, Fla.) improved to 13-1 for the Gators (27-1, 4-0 SEC) by earning both wins of the twinbill, keeping the Bulldogs scoreless on only two hits, while tossing three Ks in the first game. Rogers only allowed one run and four hits, while tallying one strike out, in the second game. Sophomore Ensley Gammel (Bakersfield, Calif.) tossed the final inning of game two for the Gators, allowing just one hit to close out the night.
Misty Flesher dropped to 4-3 and shouldered the loss for Mississippi State (12-14, 2-2 SEC) in game one by giving up five runs, four hits, one walk and no Ks before being relieved with no outs in the first inning. Shana Sherrod dropped to 1-1 following the Bulldogs’ second game after allowing nine hits, nine runs and one walk. UF faced two other MSU pitchers in the nightcap, in addition to Sherrod, including Kylie Vry and Lindsey Dunlap, who pitched 1.2 and 0.1 innings, respectively.
Florida shocked Mississippi State with five runs in the first inning to kick off the doubleheader. Junior Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) led off with a base hit, followed by a single by senior Aja Paculba (Wildomar, Calif.) that slipped past the first baseman and sent Moultrie hustling to third. Bruder smacked a single through center, sending Moultrie across the plate. Sophomore Brittany Schutte (Fountain Valley, Calif.) reached base on balls to load the bags for Bush’s fifth career grand slam, her second this season. The long ball to left field gave Bush a home run against Mississippi State each season of her career donning the Orange and Blue, while also chasing Flesher from the game with no outs on the board for Florida.
The Gators added two in the second, led by a two-run homer from Bruder to score herself and Paculba, who reached on a base hit to left center. The third inning saw the Gator lead increase to 8-0 after freshman Cheyenne Coyle (West Hills, Calif.) worked her way around the bases. The newcomer drew a base on balls then moved into scoring position on an Ensley Gammel (Bakersfield, Calif.) groundout. A throwing error by the third baseman after a Moultrie hit and Coyle’s speed allowed her to cross the plate and continue the Gator scoring.
Florida quickly put up three runs in the first inning of the nightcap, starting with a Moultrie bunt single and stolen base to get the offense rolling. Bruder and Schutte followed with singles to score Moultrie and a fielding error after a Bush base hit allowed Bruder to score and Schutte to advance to third. Sophomore Kelsey Horton (Valrico, Fla.) dropped a sacrifice fly to score Schutte and give the Gators the early 3-0 lead.
Florida capitalized on two steals and two wild pitches to add five runs in the second. Coyle drew a walk, advanced on an Ashley Snedeker (Bloomington, Minn.) groundout and came home after hustling around third on a hard-hit single down the left-field line by classmate Kasey Fagan (Dunnellon, Fla.). A pair of singles put Moultrie and Paculba on to load the bases for a double by Bruder that scored Moultrie and Fagan. Paculba and Bruder then increased the lead to 8-0 after Paculba used a Schutte fielder’s choice for a run and Bruder scored on a double steal to cap off the second-inning scoring for UF.
Bruder sent her second long ball of the day over the fence in the third, putting three more runs on the board. Moultrie and Paculba tallied their third and second hits of the game, respectively, to be on base when the lefty sent her eighth home run of the season out of the park.
Mississippi State was able avoid becoming the Gator’s 16th shut out of the season when they scored one in the top of the fourth. A base hit by Chelsea Raines and fielder’s choice for Briana Bell put both runners in scoring position following a UF fielding mishap at third. Shelby Fisher knocked in Raines with a single of her own to center field, but the Gator defense tagged Bell out at home to cap the Bulldogs at one run.
Florida added seven more runs in the fourth for a total of 18 runs in game two. Three-consecutive walks to start the inning following just one out chased Dunlap from the circle and brought back Sherrod to finish out the final two outs against UF. The defensive change didn’t help, as Fagan singled to left to score junior Ellie Langley (Spring Hill, Fla.), who was running for Bush. Base hits by Moultrie and a fielder’s choice for Paculba scored Coyle and Snedeker to make the score 14-0, but Moultrie was eliminated at second on the play. Bruder singled through the left side to score Fagan and came home herself when Schutte fired off her 10th home run of the season, scoring the final three runs.
The Gators take their heavy-hitting on the road in Oxford, Miss., to face Ole Miss in a three-game SEC showdown. Florida takes the field at the Ole Miss Softball Complex on Friday at 6 p.m. (ET) and Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. (ET). Fans can follow the action via Gametracker or on the radio by tuning into 105 The Game, both of which have links accessible on www.GatorZone.com.