Sunday May 22, 2011No. 3 Gator Softball Wins NCAA Gainesville Regional, Advances to Fifth Straight Super Regional
Despite a 3-2 UCLA victory in Sunday’s first game that forced the if necessary, the resilient Gators rocketed to a 9-0 lead in the first inning of game two with just one out, snagging six stolen bases alone in the first frame, as seven straight batters reached base, including two hits each from junior Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) and Aja Paculba (Wildomar, Fla.). Florida downed defending national champion UCLA, 11-3, in five innings for the second time in as many days to advance as the Gainesville Regional Champion.
The Gators will face No. 13 seed Oregon, which advanced out of the University Park (Pa.) region Sunday. Game dates and times are to be determined, but Gator fans can check Florida's NCAA Tournament Central page for updated information early in the week.
Florida improved to 50-10 on the season, marking UF’s fourth all-time 50-win season (2007, 2008, 2009). On the weekend, UF eclipsed several school records including team season records for runs scored (445) and RBI (419). Paculba took possession of Florida’s career hits record (273) and career stolen bases record (66), while senior Megan Bush (Anaheim Hills, Calif.) took sole possession of UF’s career RBI mark (75). UF was a staggering 25-26 on the base paths over 2011 Regional play, elevating the squad to 94-113 on the season.
The Orange and Blue advance to their fifth straight Super Regional and improved to 21-16 all-time in NCAA Regionals, 35-24 in the program’s NCAA Tournament play.
Florida used an opening round 8-0 victory over Bethune-Cookman to advance to Saturday’s match-up with UCLA, where UF defeated the Bruins 4-2. UCLA evened the tournament play slate with its 3-2 victory Sunday after eliminating Jacksonville in the Saturday evening elimination game. The Bruins early day win forced the if necessary Game 7, allowing the Gators an additional shot to advance out of the Gainesville Regional. Florida capitalized, playing its best ball against the Bruins this weekend. The Gators put up 17 runs and stole 21-of-22 bases against the Bruins in three games over the two-day span. Freshman Cheyenne Coyle (West Hills, Calif.) led Florida Sunday, going 3-for-4 (.750) with three runs, three RBI, a homer and four stolen bases. Paculba wasn’t far behind, hitting 2-for-5 with two RBI and one run in Sunday’s games combined.
Freshman righty Hannah Rogers (Lake Wales, Fla.) earned all three decisions against the Bruins, going 2-1 on the weekend to improve to 32-6, while Stephanie Brombacher (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) picked up the win against Bethune-Cookman to earn her 18th victory of 2011.
After being edged by the Bruins with a walk-off single in the first contest of the day, Florida got out of a bases-loaded situation in the first inning after Rogers forced a fly out. UF proceeded to go through three UCLA pitchers in the first inning, four on the day, as the Gators unloaded with seven hits for its nine first-inning runs, started by a bunt single from Moultrie. Paculba followed with a single and senior Kelsey Bruder (Corona, Calif.) loaded the bases after a hit-by-pitch. With one out following a strikeout, senior Megan Bush (Anaheim Hills, Calif.) got the Gators on the board first with a two RBI single up the middle, plating Moultrie and Bruder. Bush proceeded to swipe second, then scored on a Coyle fielder’s choice gone bad after the UCLA shortstop overthrew home, allowing both Bruder and Bush to cross home, while Coyle landed on second. Senior Tiffany DeFelice (Coral Springs, Fla.) didn’t leave Coyle on second long as she smacked her sixth homer over the left-field fence to clear the bags.
Up next, sophomore Kelsey Horton (Valrico, Fla.) reached after a hit-by-pitch, bringing in pinch runner and eventually designated player Ensley Gammel (Bakersfield, Calif.), who immediately swiped second. Freshman Kasey Fagan (Dunnellon, Fla.) reached on a bunt single, putting runners on the corners and setting up Moultrie’s second hit of the inning, a single through the right side that scored Gammel. Moultrie then stole second, enabling Paculba to knock a two RBI single through the right side, scoring Fagan and Moultrie to end the scoring splurge for the Orange and Blue with nine runs.
After scoreless second and third innings, UF tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the fourth to go up, 11-0, started by a sophomore Brittany Schutte (Fountain Valley, Calif.) hard-hit single to right field, eventually bringing in pinch runner Ellie Langley (Spring Hill, Fla.), who proceeded to swipe both second and third, setting up a Coyle homer, her 15th of the season, to add two more insurance runs.
UCLA avoided a shutout with three runs in the top of the fifth following back-to-back singles from GiOnna DiSalvatore and Katie Schroeder. A B.B. Bates two-out single through the right side plated both runners, while a Kellie Fox base hit, followed by a Samantha Camuso single worked Bates around the bags across home for the third and final run of the game.
Rogers fanned seven, allowing just three runs in a complete-game effort, while the four UCLA hurlers combined for just three strikeouts and 11 UF hits. Donna Kerr was charged with the loss after giving up four runs on three hits in the first inning with just one out on the board.
Rogers and the Gators will look forward to continuing their postseason success when they play host to the Oregon Ducks next weekend in NCAA Super Regional play. UF is 2-2 all-time against Oregon, with all four games at neutral sites. The Gators and Ducks last met Feb. 9, 2007, in Tempe, Ariz., as part of the Kajikawa Classic, where UF took the 2-1 victory.