Saturday June 4, 2011Florida Softball Uses 5-2 Victory Over California to Advance to Sunday WCWS Showdown with Alabama
Oklahoma City, Okla.
The Gator softball squad tallied its 15th come-from-behind victory this season, overcoming a 2-0 deficit in the third inning and never looking back as Florida downed California, 5-2, on elimination Saturday to advance to a Sunday showdown with SEC foe Alabama. The Gators and Crimson Tide will meet for the fourth time this season, the second time ever in WCWS play, and Florida will look to force two games to stay alive in the double-elimination 2011 Women’s College World Series.
UF and UA will meet at 1 p.m. (ET) at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium and the game will be broadcast live on ESPN. If a game two is necessary, both teams will meet again at 7 p.m. (ET) on ESPN2. UF’s victory Saturday over Cal marked the third time in the last four years the Gators have ended the Golden Bears’ season, while the Orange and Blue improved to 9-7 all-time in WCWS play.
The Gators (54-11) strung together a two-out rally in the bottom of the third frame to go up, 3-2, following four hits after senior Kelsey Bruder (Corona, Calif.) and sophomore Brittany Schutte (Fountain Valley, Calif.) connected for back-to-back hits. Senior Megan Bush (Anaheim Hills, Calif.) was walked for the fifth consecutive time in the past two games, loading the bags for the second time in the Cal contest, enabling freshman Cheyenne Coyle (West Hills, Calif.) to capitalize with a RBI single of her own that plated Bruder. On the same play, Schutte came home following a Cal throwing error to knot the game at two-all. Up next, senior Aja Paculba (Wildomar, Calif.) dropped a base hit that scored Bush to take Florida up, 3-2.
Florida continued its scoring, tacking on one run each in the fourth and fifth innings, holding the Golden Bears scoreless following their initial two first inning scores. The Gators were aggressive on the base paths, swiping two in Saturday’s action. Bruder and Paculba each went 2-for-3, while Schutte and junior Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) connected on 2-for-4 as the Orange and Blue rallied for 10 hits. Moultrie has led Florida’s 2011 WCWS campaign with seven hits, a .636 batting clip, two homers, four RBI and two stolen bases.
Freshman righty Hannah Rogers (Lake Wales, Fla.) (35-7) earned the start and the win for Florida in the circle, working the first 4.0, giving up just one earned run, while fanning one. Senior Stephanie Brombacher (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) came on in the fifth to toss the final three scoreless innings for the Gators, allowing just one hit and one walk en route to her first save of the season, the fifth of her career.
Jolene Henderson worked a complete-game effort for Cal, tallying the loss for the Golden Bears after 10 hits and five earned runs. Henderson gave up five walks and retired five Gators by strikeout, stranding nine Gators on base in the process.
Cal jumped out of the gates, putting up two runs on three hits to start the game. Following a leadoff fly out, Britt Vonk reached on a Gator defensive miscue and came home on a double by Jace Williams. Williams then scored on a Lindsey Ziegenhirt base hit that dropped in shallow center to take Cal ahead, 2-0. Following Cal’s two runs, Rogers wiggled her self out of a jam after loading the bags with a subsequent walk and base hit, but fanned Victoria Jones looking and forced a Jordan Wallace groundout to get out of the inning.
The Gators worked their way to a bases loaded situation in the bottom of the first inning after Bruder drew a two-out walk, enabling Schutte to send a base hit to center, while Bush loaded the bases with a walk, her fourth in a row through the past two games. The Orange and Blue couldn’t capitalize as a Coyle fielder’s choice eliminated Schutte at third for the final out of the frame.
Florida yielded just two Cal hits in the second inning to hold the Golden Bears to their 2-0 lead and Rogers worked a three up, three down situation in the third, allowing the Gators to take advantage in the bottom of the third frame to not only get on the board, but take a 3-2 lead following a three run, four hit third inning. Coyle and Paculba both tallied RBI hits for two runs, while the Gators capitalized on a Cal defensive miscue to score their third run of the contest, taking the 3-2 lead.
Moultrie ripped a one-out single through the right side to get on for Florida in the fourth and proceeded to swipe second, her 30th stolen base of 2011, to work her way into scoring position. DeFelice knocked a RBI single up the middle that allowed Moultrie to score, extending the UF lead, 4-2. Bruder followed with a base hit of her own, and Schutte placed runners on first and second after a fielder’s choice that eliminated DeFelice’s pinch runner, junior Lauren Heil (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) at third. A fielder’s choice for Bush eliminated Schutte, ending UF’s fourth-inning scoring.
Brombacher worked her way out of a jam in the fifth, thanks to stellar defensive play from Paculba at second base, after walking Ziegenhirt and giving up a Decker bunt single. Paculba snagged an Echavarria ball, tagged Decker on the base path and gunned the ball to first to eliminate Echavarria. A pop up to short ended any potential scoring opportunities in the fifth for Cal.
Paculba reached first for the Orange and Blue in the bottom of the fifth, going ball to the wall with a one-out double to right center to put herself in scoring position and then swiped third for UF’s second steal of the day. Sophomore Ensley Gammel (Bakersfield, Calif.) followed with a walk and Moultrie sent Paculba home on an infield single. Cal caught Gammel stealing third to retire the side, but not before the Gators extended their lead, 5-2.
Brombacher retired the final seven batters she faced starting with the last out of the fifth inning and forced three up, three down in both the sixth and seventh frames to solidify the save as the Gators.
For the second time in the past three years, the Gators and Crimson Tide will meet in the WCWS and for Florida, it will be their third time meeting an SEC opponent in the big dance after being eliminated by Georgia in 2010. Last time out between UF and UA in the WCWS, then senior Ali Gardiner hit a walk-off grand slam to elevate the Gators to a 6-5 victory and a berth in the 2009 Championship Series against Washington.
Florida took two of three in the regular-season series with Alabama in Gainesville, earning two dramatic walk-off wins in the final two games, both by Bruder via a homer and an infield base hit. Alabama leads the all-time series 26-21 and the two teams are knotted 3-3 on neutral ground.
In addition to live coverage on ESPN, Gator fans can tune into Adam Schick with the call on 105 ‘The Game’ locally in the Gainesville area. A complete recap and box score will be available on www.GatorZone.com/softball following Sunday’s WCWS action.