Friday May 16, 2003Softball Eliminated, Ends Season at 41-25
The No. 24/25 University of Florida softball team ended one of the finest seasons in program history Friday with a 2-1 extra-inning loss to Florida Atlantic in the NCAA Region Four Championships at Florida Softball Stadium. Callie Piper’s single to right field in the ninth inning scored Jaime Melton from second base to seal the victory for the Lady Owls.
Third-seeded Florida (41-25), which set numerous school records during the year, concluded Regional play with a 1-2 record.
Fifth-seeded FAU (44-27) will play the winner of the South Florida vs. Oregon State game, which had not concluded at the time of this release, Saturday at 12 p.m. at Florida Softball Stadium.
"They really came out and held us down," Florida head coach Karen Johns said. "We couldn’t get the run across the board, so give them credit. They stepped up and got a big hit both times when they needed it. Amanda pitched a great game for us, but unfortunately we couldn’t score."
Florida pitcher Amanda Moore (13-7) pitched a complete game, which tied for the longest appearance of her career, to pick up the loss. The junior struck out three and allowed eight hits.
"I thought we showed a lot of heart today," Moore said. "It gives us a lot of hope for next year. I hate that we’re out, but we have a lot of hope for next year."
Lady Owls pitcher Amanda Morin (23-11) allowed three hits and struck out two for the win. Jessica Sachs paced FAU at the plate by going 2-for-4 with a double.
The Gators were led at the plate by junior Jenny Gladding, who went 1-for-3 with her second triple of the season. Freshman Lindsey Cameron had a single that accounted for the Gators’ run, and freshman Kristen Butler also singled.
After the teams exchanged scoreless half innings in the eighth, FAU was able to cross the plate in the ninth.
Jessica Braggins’ double to left-center field in the ninth inning put an FAU runner in scoring position with no outs. Ebony Gray was intentionally walked by Moore to put the Gators in position for a force out.
Piper hit the Moore delivery up the middle in the next at-bat to score Melton, who came in to pinch-run, and win the game.
FAU positioned itself to score the game-winning run in the top of the eighth inning but could not capitalize off a Florida miscue.
With two outs and Jessica Sachs on second base after being advanced by a sacrifice bunt, Butler threw to second base in a pick-off attempt. None of the Gators’ infielders was covering the base, however, and the ball bounced off the base allowing Sachs to advance to third.
After walking Pam Mazzarella to put runners on the corners, Florida coach Karen Johns came out of the dugout to hold conference with Moore. The pitcher settled down and forced Jenn Piazza into a weak foul out to Butler.
The score was tied at 1 from the first inning until the game’s conclusion.
The Gators took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning off Cameron’s RBI single to left field. Gladding, who tripled with two outs, scored on the play.
FAU answered with a run of its own in first inning. After Ginny Matthews advanced to second base on a passed ball, Mazzarella hit a RBI single up the middle to tie the score at 1.
The Gators’ Butler is known for her arm behind the plate as a catcher, but the freshman showed in the third inning that she is just as skilled throwing from the outfield. Butler fielded a line drive from FAU’s Sachs in right field and threw a strike to junior second baseman Mylin Prieto as the runner was advancing to third base.
Prieto relied Butler’s throw to senior Jennifer Mossadeghi at third for the first out of the inning.
Butler set up a scoring opportunity for the Gators in the fourth inning with one out by singling Cameron to third base and advancing to second on the throw to third. The Lady Owls’ Morin worked her way out of the jam by retiring the next two Florida batters on a fly out and groundout.
Florida senior Prissie Walden’s routine groundball to shortstop with one out nearly led to the Gators scoring the go-ahead run in the fifth inning. FAU shortstop threw the ball over the first baseman’s head and into the Gators’ dugout, allowing Walden to advance to second base.
Senior Jackie Marchetta hit a sharp grounder to shortstop in the following at-bat that appeared to advance sophomore pinch runner Brittani Houghton to third base, but Houghton was ruled out on base runner interference. Garner popped out to first base in the following at-bat to end the threat.