Sunday April 24, 2011Gator Softball Wins Second Consecutive Walk-Off Thriller; Takes Series from No. 3 Alabama, 3-2
Senior Kelsey Bruder (Corona, Calif.) hit an in-field base hit with the bags loaded for No. 8 Florida’s second walk-off win in as many days against No. 3 Alabama, taking the series with a 3-2, nine-inning victory against the Tide Sunday. Freshman Cheyenne Coyle (West Hills, Calif.) crossed the plate for the winning run after sending a single through the right side and moved around the bases on two fielder’s choices. Both teams were scoreless and combined for just three hits total in a pitcher’s duel until the eighth inning, where both squads tallied two runs to force a ninth frame. Bama went three up, three down on two groundouts and a foul out to bring up the bottom of the inning, where Bruder helped give the Gators their second extra-innings victory of the season.
Freshman Hannah Rogers (Lake Wales, Fla.) dueled it out with Alabama’s Kelsi Dunne, earning her 25th win of the season in her first career nine-inning effort for the Gators (40-8, 15-7 SEC), giving up just three hits, two unearned runs and three walks while fanning 10 Alabama batters, two shy of her career high 12. Freshman Jackie Traina shouldered the loss for the Tide (42-7, 16-6 SEC) by giving up three hits and the game-winning run after entering with the score knotted at two and two down in the bottom of the eighth. Dunne tossed the first 7.2 innings for Alabama, giving up two hits, two runs and two walks while tallying 10 Ks. The Crimson Tide pitchers combined for three detrimental hit-by-pitches in the final two frames in Florida’s favor.
The UF defense wiggled itself out of a jam early on when Alabama had two runners on in the first. Lead-off hitter Kayla Braud reached on a throwing error, advancing to second. Rogers fanned the next two batters swinging, but then gave up a walk to Amanda Locke. The defense allowed Kaila Hunt to reach on a fielder’s choice as freshman Kasey Fagan (Dunnellon, Fla.) eliminated Braud at a third for the final out.
The second inning saw three-up and three-down for both teams, followed by a third where neither team advanced past second. Keima Davis drew a walk and then stole second for the Tide in the top of the inning, but two subsequent Ks and a fly out retired the side. In the bottom of the inning, sophomore Kelsey Horton (Valrico, Fla.) tallied the first hit for the Gators as she singled to center. Fagan drew a walk to put two runners on, but outs by junior Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) and Bruder ended the inning.
Alabama’s first hit came in the fourth on a two-out single down the left-field line by Traina, however, Rogers caught the next batter looking to close out the inning.
The Tide threatened again in the fifth after pinch-hitter Jennifer Fenton was hit by a pitch. Fenton moved to second on a sac bunt and to third on a ground out, but Rogers forced a ground out to senior Aja Paculba (Wildomar, Calif.) at second by Jazlyn Lunceford to end the inning.
After hitless and scoreless sixth and seventh innings for both UF and UA, both teams kicked it into gear for extra-innings play. Both squads tallied two runs in the eighth to tie the game and force play into nine innings. Alabama scored by capitalizing on UF defensive miscue; Braud and Lunceford hit a pair of singles to reach base and a sac bunt by Whitney Larsen moved both runners into scoring position. Locke was hit by a pitch to load the bases, but Rogers forced a swinging K out of Cassie Reilly-Boccia to put two outs on the board. A fielding error by Paculba allowed Traina to reach base, scoring both Braud and Lunceford. A ground out to short stop ended Alabama’s scoring with two runners left on.
The Gators rallied back with two runs of their own, thanks in part to three batters being hit by a pitch. With one out on the board, Horton was hit by a pitch and then replaced with sophomore pinch-runner Ensley Gammel (Bakersfield, Calif.), who stole second. After a Fagan strikeout, Moultrie was hit by a pitch, putting two runners on, chasing Dunne from the circle in favor of Traina. A single to right field by Bruder sent Gammel hustling home, scoring the first run for the Gators. Senior Megan Bush (Anaheim Hills, Calif.) was intentionally walked, loading the bases and enabling Moultrie to score the second run when sophomore Brittany Schutte (Fountain Valley, Calif.) was also hit by a pitch.
The Gator defense forced three-up, three-down in the top of the ninth to hold the Tide to just their two runs before Bruder hit a walk-off single to send home the winning run. Senior Tiffany DeFelice (Coral Springs, Fla.) drew a walk to lead off for the Gators and a single through the right side by freshman Cheyenne Coyle (West Hills, Calif.) sent DeFelice hustling to third. Gammel then laid down a sacrifice bunt and reached on a fielder’s choice, advancing the runners and loading the bases. After Fagan struck out swinging, Moultrie was able to reach on a fielder’s choice that eliminated DeFelice at home. With two outs and the bases loaded, Bruder singled to second base, sending Coyle home and tallying her second walk-off hit of the weekend.
Florida hits the road for their final regular-season away series April 29-May 1 in Columbia, South Carolina. The Gamecocks (25-24, 6-16 SEC) are coming off a 4-3 win against Kentucky on April 24, but dropped the series 2-1. Play begins Friday at 7 p.m., with game two on Saturday at 2 p.m. and the final contest Sunday at noon. Saturday’s and Sunday’s games will be broadcast on Fox Sports Florida and fans can listen to all three games live on 105 “The Game” with Adam Schick calling the action. Live stats will be available via Gametracker, found at GatorZone.com.