Wednesday May 4, 2011Gator Softball Edges Seminoles 1-0 in Non-Conference Finale
The fourth-ranked Florida softball team edged Sunshine State rival FSU, 1-0, in the team’s final non-conference match-up Wednesday, as the Gator seniors tied as the winningest class in Florida history. Senior Aja Paculba (Wildomar, Calif.) knocked a solo shot to left field for the lone hit and run of the game for the Orange and Blue as the second baseman tallied her 15th long ball of the season. Florida’s senior class boasts a record of 226-28 (.889) through four years and is 91-13 (.875) in Southeastern Conference play heading into their final regular-season home series with Tennessee.
Senior righty Stephanie Brombacher (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) knotted her 17th win of the season after giving up three FSU hits and fanning two in 4.2 innings of work, while retiring 12 batters in a row from the last out in the first inning to the first two outs in the fifth inning for Florida (44-8, 18-7 SEC). Freshman Hannah Rogers (Lake Wales, Fla.) came in during the fifth to earn the save, her third of the season, giving up three hits, but also fanning three in the final 2.1 innings. Seminole pitcher Sarah Hamilton tossed a one-hitter, walking four and striking out six in the contest.
FSU (26-24) tallied two of its six hits in the first inning, but was left in a dry spell until the fifth. Tiffani Brown singled up the middle but was then caught stealing at second by freshman shortstop Cheyenne Coyle (West Hills, Calif.) and sophomore Brittany Schutte (Fountain Valley, Calif.). After the next batter lined out, Jen Lapicki doubled to right field but was unable to capitalize on the hit as the next batter was forced into a groundout to freshman Kasey Fagan (Dunnellon, Fla.) at third.
Florida’s first run came in the second when Paculba hit her solo shot to left field on a full count. With one out on the board, the senior hit her first home run since hitting two against Auburn on April 17. After senior Tiffany DeFelice (Coral Springs, Fla.) grounded out, Coyle and sophomore Kelsey Horton (Valrico, Fla.) drew walks but neither could advance, as Fagan fouled out to end the inning.
Kristie McConn led off with a base hit to center-field for the Seminoles in the fifth, retiring Brombacher and bringing Rogers in to pitch with two outs on the board. Prior to FSU’s fifth-inning hit, Brombacher had retired 12 straight batters, including a ground out to end the first inning, three up, three down for the Seminoles in the second, third and fourth frames, and a strikeout and fly out to start the fifth. Rogers closed out the inning when she caught a line out from Courtney Senas, keeping FSU scoreless.
Rogers opened the sixth by forcing two swinging Ks, but then gave up a double to Shayla Jackson. The defense held Jackson at second as Lapicki drew the final out as she was tossed out at first.
After the Gators went three up, three down in the sixth, Rogers forced two outs to begin the seventh, including catching Robin Ahrberg looking, but the Seminoles didn’t back down, as they proceeded to load the bags on a two-out rally before the Gator defense could secure the final out. Courtney Gomez singled to right field before Kirstin Austin came in to pinch run. Austin moved to second when Briana Hamilton reached on a fielding error, followed by a single through the right side by Senas to load the bases. The Orange and Blue managed to get out of the jam when Morgan Bullock grounded out to Fagan to end the game with three left on.
Florida returns to Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium Friday at 4:30 for the final regular season series finale in a critical conference match-up against No. 3/5 Tennessee. The three-game series also marks Senior Weekend for the five Gator seniors, Brombacher, Kelsey Bruder (Corona, Calif.), Megan Bush (Anaheim Hills, Calif.), DeFelice and Paculba. Friday’s game can be seen on GatorVision or Sun Sports, with Larry Vettel and Kristina Hilberth on the call. Game two, which will honor Brombacher and DeFelice, begins Saturday at noon and will air live on ESPN, with Sunday’s 3 p.m. game, honoring Bush, Paculba and Bruder will be broadcast on ESPNU. Fans can listen live to all three games on 105 “The Game”, with Adam Schick. Live stats will be available via Gametracker on GatorZone.com.