Friday May 27, 2011Softball Inches One Game Closer to Fourth Straight WCWS Appearance with 9-1 Victory Over Oregon Friday
The third-ranked University of Florida softball team used a pair of two-run homers by sophomore Brittany Schutte (Fountain Valley, Calif.) to help propel the squad over Oregon, 9-1, in the first game of NCAA Softball Super Regional play at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium Friday. Schutte sent back long balls in the first and third innings, scoring senior Kelsey Bruder (Corona, Calif.) both times. The right fielder also scored the ninth and final run to enforce the run rule in the fifth off a single by senior Tiffany DeFelice (Coral Springs, Fla.). A crowd of 1,089 Gator fans stuck through two rain delays to support the Gators in their quest for a fourth straight Women’s College World Series appearance.
Schutte’s two home runs Friday tied the 2011 squad for the Florida and SEC single-season home runs record at 109, a mark also achieved by the 2010 Gator team. Junior Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) stole her 27th base of the season, tying her with senior Aja Paculba’s (Wildomar, Fla.) single -season record, 27 stolen bases in 2009. In addition to senior Megan Bush’s (Anaheim Hills, Calif.) SEC record 64 career home runs, the team also holds the SEC single season RBI record with 427. Schutte now ranks second on the squad in homers this season, with 19, just one shy of Bush’s UF single-season record 20, while Moultrie has tallied 27 of 30 stolen bases for the Orange and Blue in 2011.
Both Schutte and Bruder were a perfect 2-for-2 with three runs on the day, while Schutte tallied four RBI and each drew a walk in UF’s winning efforts. For Schutte, her two round-trippers against the Ducks marked the third time this season she’s smashed two in a single-game effort, first Valparaiso, then the regular-season finale with Auburn April 17.
Senior Stephanie Brombacher tallied the 11th NCAA Tournament win of her career and her 19th of this season for Florida (51-10) by tossing the first three innings, while giving up only one run on two hits and striking out three of 11 batters faced. Freshman Hannah Rogers (Lake Wales, Fla.) finished out the final two innings, giving up one hit while tallying three Ks.
Jessica Moore shouldered her 10th loss of the season for the Ducks (42-15) by giving up four hits, five runs and a walk while striking out two in the first three innings. Sam Skillingstad came on in relief in the fourth, but was replaced by Mikayla Endicott in the fifth once the bases were loaded. Skillingstad gave up one hit, four runs and two walks in her effort. Endicott gave up two hits; the two RBI singles that scored Florida’s final three runs of the afternoon.
Florida came out swinging to tally three runs on three hits in the first inning. Moultrie led off with a single to right field before stealing second, tying Paculba’s 2009 single-season stolen bases record with 27. Bruder then doubled to the right-field wall to send Moultrie hustling home to put the first run of the game on the board. With one out on the board, Schutte smashed a towering home run to right center, plating herself and Bruder to put the Gators up 3-0.
Oregon answered in the top of the second by plating a run with a RBI single by Samantha Pappas. Monique Fuiava led off with a double to the left-center wall to put herself in scoring position, but Brombacher answered by forcing Kaitlin Vitek out swinging. Fuivana then moved to third on an illegal pitch, but Brombacher was able to catch Alexa Peterson swinging as well. With two outs on the board, Pappas singled to left-center to bring Fuiava home but was left on base when short stop Cheyenne Coyle (West Hills, Calif.) caught the final out of the second frame.
The Gators added two more runs in the third when a Schutte home run brought Bruder across home for the second time in the game. After two groundouts, Bruder drew a walk on a full count to once again be on base for another Schutte long ball, extending the Gator lead to 5-1.
After Rogers entered the game and kept the Ducks off the bases in the top of the fourth frame, Coyle worked her way around the bases in the bottom of the fourth to score the Gator’s sixth run of the game. As soon Sam Skillingstad came in to pitch, Coyle was hit by a pitch to reach first, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by DeFelice and moved to third on a wild pitch. Coyle came home on a wild pitch as classmate Kasey Fagan (Dunnellon, Fla.) was subsequently walked, but Skillingstad forced two fly outs kept the score at 6-1.
Rogers and the Gator defense got out of a jam in the fifth by leaving runners on the corners. The righty opened the inning with a swinging K after a short rain delay, but then gave up her only hit, a single by Pappas. Christie Nieto was then hit by a pitch to move Pappas to second, but Nieto was eliminated at second when Allie Burger reached on a fielder’s choice. With runners on first and third and two outs on the board, Rogers caught Courtney Ceo swinging on the 0-2 count, holding the Ducks at one run in what would be their final at-bat.
Florida was able to run-rule Oregon in the bottom of the fifth by adding two runs before a RBI single by DeFelice scored the ninth run. The Gators loaded the bases twice, first when Paculba reached on an error by the shortstop, Bruder doubled to center field and Schutte drew a walk. Bush singled to the shortstop, sending Paculba and Bruder hustling home. With Schutte on second and Ashley Snedeker (Spring Hill, Fla.), running for Bush, on first, the bases were again loaded when Coyle drew a walk. DeFelice then singled to right field, scoring Schutte and securing the victory.
The Gators and Ducks will be back on the diamond tomorrow for the second game of the best-of-three series. First pitch is set for noon from Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium. Saturday’s game will be broadcast live by ESPN, with Cara Capuano and Garland Cooper. Local Gator fans unable to attend can listen live on the radio to 105 ‘The Game’, with the call by Adam Schick and Kristina Hilberth. Should the Ducks take Saturday’s first game and force the ‘if necessary’, coverage will continue on ESPN, with first pitch set for 2:30 p.m.
Florida will look to be the first steam from the SEC to advance to its fourth straight Women’s College World Series, all under the watch of head coach Tim Walton. Florida made an appearance in the 2009 Championship Series against Washington. For all updated information on Gator softball, visit www.GatorZone.com/softball.