Friday May 20, 2011No. 3 Gator Softball Eases Past Bethune-Cookman, 8-0, in NCAA Opener
Freshman Cheyenne Coyle (West Hills, Calif.) went 2-for-2 with three RBI as the Gators topped Bethune-Cookman, 8-0, in five innings to open their 2011 NCAA Tournament campaign. Junior Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) added two hits to Florida’s nine-hit effort and sophomore Brittany Schutte (Fountain Valley, Calif.) smoked a two RBI double to left field to get Florida on the board first in the first frame. An Aja Paculba (Wildomar, Calif.) sacrifice fly plated pinch runner Ensley Gammel (Bakersfield, Calif.) to enforce the run rule after five innings as Florida improved to 48-9 on the season.
The Gators advance to tomorrow’s 1:00 p.m. match-up and will face UCLA in the first game of Saturday’s Gainesville Regional action. The Bruins defeated Jacksonville, 2-0, in Friday’s early game, with both their runs coming in the bottom of the sixth frame on two hits. Jacksonville and Bethune-Cookman will meet in the 3:30 p.m. contest and the losing squads in tomorrow’s first two games will play again at 6 p.m.
Florida tallied its 19th overall win in NCAA Regional play, its 33rd all-time in the NCAA Tournament, scattering its eight runs through three different innings, tallying four in the first and two each in the third and fifth frames. Senior righty Stephanie Brombacher (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) yielded just three Wildcat hits, working the full 5.0 innings for the Orange and Blue to improve to 18-2 this season. Brombacher fanned five and walked just one in Friday’s efforts.
In addition to Brombacher’s leadership in the circle, the Florida defense backed her up and the offense was potent and aggressive, especially on the base paths, as the Orange and Blue snagged four stolen bases on the evening.
Schutte got the Gators rolling in the first inning after Brombacher forced a three up, three down situation to kick off the game as she knocked a one-out two RBI double to left field to plate Moultrie and Paculba, who reached on a single and walk, respectively. Florida was persistent as senior Tiffany DeFelice (Coral Springs, Fla.)’s patience at the plate paid off with a walk to place runners on first and second. UF then capitalized on a Allison Garcia illegal pitch as Schutte and DeFelice advance to third and second to set up Coyle’s dart down the left-field line to plate the final two runs of the inning.
Bethune-Cookman’s Sabrina Ferguson drew the squad’s lone walk of the day in the second inning, but a pop up to Coyle at short stop ended the inning. UF senior Kelsey Bruder (Corona, Calif.) sent a two-out single through the right side in the bottom of the frame, but Florida couldn’t capitalize as a Schutte groundout sent the game to the third inning with UF ahead, 4-0. The Wildcats used an Ashton Hinds double for their first hit of the game in the third, but with two outs on the board, an unassisted groundout to senior Megan Bush (Anaheim Hills, Calif.) at first base retired the side.
Bush led off for Florida in the third inning, sending a single down the left-field line to reach base, bringing in pinch runner Lauren Heil (Pembroke Pines, Fla.), who proceeded to swipe second. A DeFelice blooper that dropped in center field advanced Heil to second and a Coyle hit-by-pitch loaded the bags for the Gators. After two consecutive Garcia strikeouts, Moultrie sent an RBI double up the middle to bring Heil and DeFelice across home. A groundout stranded two on base, but not before UF took a 6-0 advantage.
Garcia, not only leading the Wildcats in the circle, but at the plate, led off the fourth for Bethune-Cookman with a single to right center to place a runner on, but three consecutive pop ups halted any potential scoring opportunities. Garcia then returned to shut Florida down in the fourth, forcing three fly outs with a Bush walk scattered in between, bringing up the fifth where the Gators put the game away in the bottom of the stanza.
Bethune-Cookman started the fifth with its third and final hit, a leadoff double from Michelle Banuelos-Smith. Following a fly out, a fielder’s choice gave the Wildcats runners on the corners, but a strikeout and foul out allowed Florida to add two final runs in the bottom of the inning to end the game early.
Coyle smacked a leadoff solo shot over the scoreboard in center field on a full count, bringing up sophomore designated player Kelsey Horton (Valrico, Fla.), who followed with a single through the left side, bringing in Gammel to pinch run and forcing a pitching change for Bethune-Cookman. With Shanel Tolbert in the circle, freshman Kasey Fagan (Dunnellon, Fla.) drew a walk and Moultrie laid down a sac bunt to advance Gammel to third and Fagan to second. Paculba followed with a sac fly, allowing Gammel to tag up and head across home for the eighth and final Gator run.
ESPN3.com’s coverage of the Gainesville Regional will continue Saturday and Gator fans can additionally tune in live on the radio to 105 The Game, with Adam Schick and Kristina Hilberth on the call as the Gators and Bruins square off at 1 p.m. (ET).
Florida’s game with UCLA will feature a re-match of this year’s earlier contest between the Gators and Bruins in Cathedral City, Calif., where UF took the 4-1 victory. In the opening game of last year’s Women’s College World Series, UCLA got the better part of the Gators with a 16-3, six-inning defeat. In the last outing Feb. 25, freshman righty Hannah Rogers (Lake Wales, Fla.) tossed a complete game with 10 strikeouts, shy of her then career-high 11. Rogers gave up no walks, just five hits and one run, an Alyssa Tiumalu solo homer in the bottom of the second inning.
For all information, recaps, box scores, quotes and schedules, visit NCAA Tournament Gainesville Regional Central HERE.