Friday May 6, 2011Cheyenne Coyle Walk-Off Homer Lifts No. 4 Gator Softball Over No. 3 Tennessee in Series Opener
The fourth-ranked Florida softball team came away with a 4-3 advantage over No. 3 Tennessee in the series opener at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium Friday thanks to a freshman Cheyenne Coyle (West Hills, Calif.) walk-off home run, marking the Gators’ fourth walk-off win this season, the second by home run. Coyle’s 13th long ball of the season broke the three-all tie that began in the fifth as the Gators (45-8, 19-7 SEC) narrowed Tennessee’s (44-8, 20-6 SEC) lead in the SEC Eastern Division to just one game with their victory Friday. The Gators need two more victories this weekend to clinch the SEC East title. In perfect Senior Weekend fashion, the UF senior class tallied its 227th win in a Gator uniform, its 92nd SEC victory, to become the winningest class in Florida history.
The shortstop also scored in the fifth inning, along with sophomore Ensley Gammel (Bakersfield, Calif.), capitalizing on two Tennessee wild pitches, while freshman Kasey Fagan (Dunnellon, Fla.) scored on a Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) single up the middle in the third stanza to put up UF’s first run after knocking a double herself.
Freshman righty Hannah Rogers (Lake Wales, Fla.) earned the win for Florida, her 28th of the season, when she entered fifth inning with the Gators down, 3-1, and only allowed one hit while fanning four in the final 2.1 innings. Senior Stephanie Brombacher (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) started the contest for the Orange and Blue, tossing the first 4.2 innings, giving up three runs on four hits and one walk, while fanning two. After giving up a hit in the first, Brombacher dismissed the next eight consecutive batters.
Freshman Ellen Renfroe shouldered the loss for the Volunteers, just her fourth loss of the season while giving up five Gator hits, four UF runs and three walks, while striking out three in the complete-game effort.
Florida added its first run in the third, thanks to a RBI single by Moultrie up the middle. Fagan led off with her sixth double of the season, this one down the left-field line after the ball hit third base and continued to stay fair. Fagan advanced to third on a ground out by Gammel and came home on a hard-hit single up the middle by Moultrie. A hit by senior Aja Paculba (Wildomar, Calif.) sent Moultrie hustling to third, but the umpire ruled Moultrie left base early, sending her back to the dugout with an out. Paculba tallied the final out of the inning, capping the score at 1-0.
Tennessee put three runs on the board in the fifth on a two-out rally. Jessica Spigner drew a leadoff and was replaced by pinch runner Tory Lewis before moving to second on a single through the left side by Shelby Burchell. A sac bunt then put both runners in scoring position, but Madison Shipman fouled out to put two outs on the board. The Vols pushed through as a hard-hit single by Ashley Andrews in the nine-spot sent Lewis and Burchell hustling around the bags to score, giving Tennessee the 2-1 lead. Andrews then added a run of her own after she stole second and came home on a triple by Raven Chavanne. Rogers then came in to pitch and forced a groundout to escape the inning without any further damage.
The Orange and Blue answered in the bottom of the frame by adding two runs and evening the score at three. Coyle drew a walk and advanced to second after Gammel singled through the left side. Moultrie hit a groundout to put both runners in scoring position, allowing Coyle to come home and Gammel to move to third after a wild pitch on a four-ball walk by Paculba. Renfroe threw another wild pitch, this time with senior Kelsey Bruder (Corona, Calif.) at the plate, allowing Gammel to cross home and tie the score at three-all, while moving Paculba to second, but a Bruder groundout ended the inning.
The Volunteers had one runner in scoring position in the sixth, but were unable to break the tie. Kelly Grieve sent a base hit to right field, but Rogers caught the next batter swinging for her third K. A groundout moved Grieve to second and Burchell was hit by a pitch to reach base, but Melissa Davin went down swinging to end the inning.
Coyle tallied the fourth and final run for the Gators as she homered to center field on a 1-2 count, the second time this season Florida has ended a game with a walk-off long ball. The freshman is now tied for second with Megan Bush (Anaheim Hills, Calif.) for the freshman home run record at 13.
Game two resumes at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium Saturday at noon against No. 3/5 Tennessee. Saturday also kicks off Senior Weekend for the five Gator seniors, Brombacher, Bruder, Bush, Tiffany DeFelice (Coral Springs, Fla.) and Paculba. Saturday’s game, which will honor Brombacher and DeFelice, 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 games on 105 “The Game”, with Adam Schick and Kristina Hilberth. Live stats will be available via Gametracker on GatorZone.com.