Saturday April 23, 2011Kelsey Bruder Three-Run Walk-Off Bomb Lifts Softball over Alabama, 6-5; Evens Series
Senior Kelsey Bruder (Corona, Calif.) smashed a walk-off first-pitch three-run bomb to right field and the Gators defeated Alabama, 6-5, Saturday at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium. The series-evening victory marked the second walk-off for the Orange and Blue, the other being UF’s defeat over Texas Feb. 24 when Florida won 6-5 in nine innings. Florida’s six runs were the result of three homers as senior Megan Bush (Anaheim Hills, Calif.) knocked a two-run shot in the fourth, directly followed by a solo shot from senior Tiffany DeFelice (Coral Springs, Fla.). The Gators’ three runs in the fourth came with two outs on the board as Bush tied former Gator Francesca Enea for the single-season home run record with 20.
The Gators (39-8, 14-7 SEC) celebrated the victory over the Crimson Tide (42-6, 16-5 SEC) with the highlight of softball’s Cancer Awareness Weekend, the Swinging for the Cure Home Run Derby, directly following. Danielle Lawrie tossed darts from the circle as Gator greats Shane Matthews, Chris Doering, Ahmad Black and others, like ESPN analyst Jessica Mendoza, took their best shot for the cause. Matthews came out on top, with four points, as points were awarded for making contact (1), and out-field hit (3) and a homer (5).
Freshman Hannah Rogers (Lake Wales, Fla.) earned the win in UF’s defeat over UA after entering with one down in the seventh and the game knotted at three all. The Gator defense backed up Rogers, turning a double play – Bush to freshman Cheyenne Coyle (West Hills, Calif.) covering second to senior Aja Paculba (Wildomar, Calif.) at first for the final two outs of the frame. Senior hurler Stephanie Brombacher (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) worked 6.1 innings, giving up five runs, four earned, on five hits, while fanning four. Kelsi Dunne tallied the loss for the Tide, just her third loss of the year, also entering the contest with the score knotted, but earlier in the sixth inning. Dunne gave up two detrimental hits and three runs off Bruder’s homer, working the final 1.1.
Alabama went up first in the second to give the Tide the early lead. Although Brombacher caught the first batter swinging, Kaila Hunt was able to draw a walk and advanced to third after a double through the right side by Jazlyn Lunceford. Hunt and Lunceford crossed the plate after a pair of singles by Traina and Kendall Dawson, putting Alabama up 2-0. The Gator defense was able to cap the scoring at two by getting Iamurri, who was running for Traina, out at second and forcing the last batter to fly out.
Florida tallied its first hit in the third inning when freshman Kasey Fagan (Dunnellon, Fla.) singled to left field with two outs on the board. The Gators were unable to capitalize as Moultrie tallied the final out, but UF carried the momentum into the fourth frame, taking the lead in the bottom of the stanza, fueled by back-to-back home runs by Bush and DeFelice. With two outs on the board, sophomore Brittany Schutte (Fountain Valley, Calif.) tallied a single and crossed the plate when Bush smacked a long ball out of the park. Florida didn’t leave the score tied at two for long, as catcher DeFelice garnered her fifth home run of the season, four of which have come in the last six games. The Gators last posted back-to-back home runs April 17 against Auburn in a game where the team tallied a school-record eight homers.
The Tide added a home run of their own to tie the score at three in the top of the fifth. After a ground out and a pop-up, Whitney Larsen was able to connect for a solo-shot to left field to knot the score at three. One run was all Alabama would get out of the UF defense, as Brombacher forced her 100th K of the season from the next batter to end the half inning.
After holding Alabama hitless and scoreless in the sixth, Dunne entered the game in the bottom of the inning to pitch and immediately walked Bush. Junior Lauren Heil (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) came in to run and advanced to second on a ground out by DeFelice. However, the next two Gators were caught swinging, preventing any scoring opportunities.
Alabama took the lead in the seventh by adding two runs off a Kayla Braud homer. Lauren Sewell reached base on a UF defensive miscue and was replaced by pinch runner Keirna Davis, who was able to advance on a sac bunt. With one out, Braud hit her two-run shot to center, setting the score at 5-3. After the next batter drew a walk, Rogers came in to relieve Brombacher. UF secured the final two outs with a 3-6-4 double play, leaving the run deficit at two.
A seventh inning rally, behind a loud and electric crowd of1,905, prevailed as Gators ended the contest with a three-run walk-off homer by Bruder, her 16th long ball of the season. Fagan drew a walk to start the inning, followed by a single from Moultrie that sent Fagan hustling to third and allowed Moultrie to advance on the throw. With one out and the two Gators in scoring position, Bruder stepped up to the plate and smashed a first-pitch round-tripper out of the park to give UF the decisive, 6-5 victory to even the series.
The series finale with Alabama continues Sunday with first pitch set for 1 p.m. Sunday’s game will air live on ESPN, featuring Beth Mowins, Michele Smith and Jessica Mendoza. Coverage will also be available locally on the radio with Adam Schick and Kristina Hilberth on 105 “The Game” and live stats can be found via Gametracker, accessible on GatorZone.com/softball.