Saturday May 21, 2011No. 3 Florida Softball Tops No. 14 UCLA, 4-2, to Advance in Gainesville Regional
The No. 3 Gator softball team used stellar defense and an aggressive offense, including four hits from the top of the lineup, to down No. 14 UCLA, 4-2, and advance to Sunday’s regional final. A single from senior Megan Bush (Anaheim Hills, Calif.) that dropped in left field plated junior Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) for the Gators’ initial run after UCLA got on the board first with a two-run homer from UCLA’s B.B. Bates in the top of the first stanza.
Moultrie and seniors Aja Paculba (Wildomar, Calif.) and Kelsey Bruder (Corona, Calif.) tallied UF’s three other hits and the Orange and Blue capitalized on a UCLA wild pitch, a hit-by-pitch, two illegal pitches and a passed ball to tally their second victory over the Bruins this season, the first one being a 4-1 victory in the Cathedral City Classic in late February.
Florida lit up the base paths for the second day in a row, stealing five bags, while freshman righty Hannah Rogers (Lake Wales, Fla.) worked the complete 7.0, giving up just five hits and the two runs, neither of which were earned, to improve to 31-5 this season. Rogers fanned nine, just three shy of her career-high 12, and walked just one in the contest.
UCLA used three pitchers in the match-up, but Jessica Hall was charged with the loss after entering in a two-all tie and giving up the game-winning run, walking two and fanning just one of the six batters she faced in 1.1 innings.
Following UCLA’s first-inning bomb and Bush’s RBI single, UF trailed 2-1 heading to the second inning. After a one-out Alyssa Tiumalu single, Paculba rallied for her second double play in the past three games, contributing an unassisted double play effort against Auburn in the SEC Tournament, and then executing a Tiumalu tag from first to second, followed by a throw to Bush at first to get out of the second inning.
The Gators evened the score in the second after freshman Kasey Fagan (Dunnellon, Fla.) reached on a UCLA miscue to start a two-out rally. Fagan proceeded to swipe second, turning the lineup over and enabling Moultrie to send a RBI single up the middle to plate Fagan to head to the third knotted at two-all.
Rogers yielded one hit in the third and fanned one, enabling Florida to take the lead in the bottom of the inning. Paculba drew a leadoff walk and worked her way around the bases on a stolen base, a Hall illegal pitch and then scored on a passed ball to give UF a 3-2 lead.
A scoreless fourth for both teams brought up the fifth, when UCLA notched two two-out hits, but Rogers forced a Katie Schroeder pop up to freshman Cheyenne Coyle (West Hills, Calif.) at shortstop to retire the side. The Gators added their fourth and final run in the fifth following consecutive singles to left field from Paculba and Bruder. A sophomore Brittany Schutte (Fountain Valley, Calif.) groundout advanced both runners into scoring position.
An attempt at an intentional walk against Bush went bad for the Bruins and new pitcher Aleah Macon, when Macon sent the ball over new catcher Grace Murray’s head, allowing Paculba to score on the wild pitch, giving UF the final, 4-2.
Rogers and the Gators held the Bruins scoreless in the sixth, but UCLA threatened with runners on second and third before a groundout ended the opportunity. Bates reached with one out after a hit-by-pitch and advanced to second on a Kellie Fox walk. Both runners advanced on a Samantha Camuso groundout for the second out. Murray sent the ball back to Rogers for the final out.
Florida went three up, three down in the sixth, as did UCLA in the top of the seventh thanks to a Rogers strikeout, followed by a groundout and fly out.
The Gators improved to 49-9 on the season, evened its all-time series with UCLA to 3-3 and improved to 20-15 all-time in NCAA Regionals, 34-23 in NCAA Tournament play.
Jacksonville defeated Bethune-Cookman, 8-0, in Game 4 and will take on UCLA in Game 5, beginning at 6 p.m. (ET). The winner of Game 5 will face UF tomorrow at 1 p.m. in Game 6.
For all information and updates on the 2011 NCAA Gainesville Regional, visit Tournament Central.