Sunday May 18, 2008Waleszonia's Home Runs Advance Softball to Super Regionals
The No. 1 Florida Softball team (65-3) won its second consecutive NCAA Regional with a 10-0 five-inning win over UCF (49-20) in the second championship game of the Gainesville Regional. The Gators will advance to play the winner of the Fresno State Regional next weekend in Gainesville. Dates and times have not yet been set.
The Gators attributed the win to making adjustments at the plate after losing the first game of the day.
“We knew we had to come back and make some better adjustments, and put pressure on them,” junior Kim Waleszonia (Fontana, Calif,) said.
Junior catcher Kristina Hilberth (Dunedin, Fla.) agreed, “We came back with a veteran mentality of getting our pitch, and not letting it go by. In game two, we came up with a better approach and made better adjustments by being more aggressive.”
Six different Gators grabbed hits in the game, including a 3-for-3 performance lead off batter Waleszonia. She also scored three runs on the day and recorded four RBI. Freshman Aja Paculba (Wildomar, Calif.) was also perfect at the plate with a 2-for-2 performance, a walk and a run scored. In contrast, in game one only three players got the Gators’ five hits, with three of them being in a perfect 3-for-3 performance from Hilberth.
Florida went out strong in the second championship game, putting up three runs on four hits and two UCF errors in the home half of the first. Waleszonia led off with a bunt single. She stole second for her 20th stolen base of the season. Paculba followed with a second bunt single. Junior Ali Gardiner (Waccabuc, N.Y.) knocked a base hit through the right side to score Waleszonia for the 1-0 Gator lead. Sophomore Francesca Enea (Woodland Hills, Calif.) added the third bunt single of the inning to load the bases. Freshman Tiffany DeFelice (Coral Springs, Fla.) reached on a fielder’s choice as Paculba was thrown out at the plate. A throwing error by the Knights’ catcher as she tried to turn the double play and get DeFelice at first allowed Gardiner to score. The Knights did get DeFelice at second on the play for the second out of the inning. Senior Mary Ratliff (Mt. Sterling, Ky.) reached on the second UCF error of the inning, allowing Enea to score for the 3-0 Gator lead.
The Gators added another run with two outs in the bottom of the second as Waleszonia blasted her second home run of the season over the fence in right center field.
Florida had a big sixth inning that sealed the win and its second NCAA Super Regional appearance. With one out, Hilberth reached on an infield base hit. Sophomore Corrie Brooks (Christmas, Fla.) followed with a base hit to left. Waleszonie slammed her second home run of the day to the video platform outside the centerfield fence for the 7-0 Gator lead. It was the first time in her career she hit two home runs in a game and the fourth time a Gator has hit two home runs in a game this season. Paculba followed with a base hit. Gardiner drew a walk from UCF pitcher Allison Kime. Ashliegh Cole came in to replace Kime in the circle and freshman Ami Austin (Ormond Beach , Fla.) entered the game to pinch run for Gardiner. Enea was hit by a Cole pitch to load the bases. Tiffany DeFelice reached on a fielder’s choice, as Paculba and Austin both scored on a UCF throwing error. Enea moved all the way to third on the play. Junior Le-Net Franklin (Belton, Texas) entered the game for Florida to pinch run for DeFelice. A Ratliff sacrifice fly allowed Enea to score for the 10th and final Gator run of the game.
UCF’s only hit of the game came in the top of the third as Abby McClain hit a two-out single.
Florida junior pitcher Stacey Nelson’s (Los Alamitos, Calif.) one-hitter was her first since April 20 against Kentucky. She also did not allow a walk in the game and struck out two UCF batters. In 54 career innings in NCAA Regional play, Nelson has given up only one earned run. She now has a 43-3 record on the season. As she has done all season, Nelson credited her teammates with her success in the circle.
“(The runs by the offense) definitely helped,” Nelson said. “It’s great when you get a big cushion. It helps your confidence and gives you a little more room to breathe as a pitcher.”
Allison Kime took the loss for UCF. Kime pitched the bulk of the innings for UCF, throwing 28.1 innings. She finished her senior season with a 33-12 record and led her team to the regional championship for the first time in school history.
Stayed tuned to GatorZone.com for the announcement of Super Regional dates and times as well as broadcast information. The information will be released late Sunday night or early Monday morning.