2012 Florida Gators softball primer: Build it up

Spring is here and No. 2/4 Florida Gators softball is set to begin their 2012 season this weekend by playing five games as part of a three-day tournament hosted by South Florida in Tampa, FL from Feb. 10-12.

The Gators enter the 2012 campaign having lost a number of major pieces that formed the core of last year’s team that went all the way to the championship round of the 2011 Women’s College World Series. However, a strong and dynamic freshman class coupled with a crop of extremely talented players and superb coaching by Tim Walton means that Florida may not be far off from yet another successful season.

Continue Reading » 2012 Florida Gators softball primer: Build it up

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Seniors take Gators softball to new heights

Five members of the Florida Gators softball team saw their collegiate careers come to an end Tuesday night in the final game of the 2011 Women’s College World Series. And while they may not have won the national title and are likely returning to Gainesville, FL on Wednesday with heavy hearts, their accomplishments as a senior class are unmatched in school history. Let’s take a look at their impact…

2011 Senior Class
– Compiled a 238-33 record (.878 winning percentage)
– Set a NCAA record with 70 wins in 2008 (freshman year)
– First SEC team to appear in four-straight WCWS
– Played in WCWS Championships Series twice in three years (2009, 2011)
– Won two SEC regular season and two SEC Tournament titles (2008, 2009)
– Won four-straight SEC East division titles (2008-11)

OF Kelsey Bruder
– Hit .357 (221/619) with 52 homers, 195 RBI, 185 runs scored and 103 walks
– School record for career batting average (.357)
– School record for total bases in a single season (152, 2011)
– School record for runs scored in single season (79, 2011)
– Only player in school history to hit two sacrifice flies in a single game
– 2011 NFCA First-Team All-American
– 2011 SEC Player of the Year
– 2011 WCWS All-Tournament Team
– 2009, 2011 All-SEC First Team
– 2009 SEC All-Tournament Team
– 2009 SEC All-Defensive Team

RHP Stephanie Brombacher
– Compiled a 1.50 career ERA; won 97 of 108 decisions and struck out 683 batters
– School record for career winning percentage (.898)
– School record for winning percentage in a single season (1.000 in 2008, 2009)
– Only pitcher in school history to start her career 10+ wins before suffering a loss
– 2010 All-SEC First Team
– 2009 & 2010 NFCA All-Southeast Region First Team
– 2008 SEC All-Freshman Team

1B Megan Bush
– Hit .318 (225/707) with 65 homers, 217 RBI, 138 runs scored and 113 walks
– School record for career home runs (65)
– School record for RBI in a single season (80, 2011)
– 2011 NFCA First-Team All-American
– 2010, 2011 All-SEC First Team
– 2010 SEC All-Tournament Team
– 2009 WCWS All-Tournament Team
– 2009, 2010 NFCA All-Southeast Region First Team
– 2008 SEC All-Freshman Team

C Tiffany DeFelice
– Hit .280 (132/472) with 24 homers, 106 RBI, 70 runs scored and 100 walks
– School record for career fielding percentage
– One of three players in school history to record perfect fielding percentages in a single season and the only player to do so twice
– 2008 SEC All-Freshman Team

2B Aja Paculba
– Hit .340 (279/821) with 35 homers, 176 RBI, 253 runs scored and 160 walks
– School record for career hits (279)
– School record for career runs scored (253)
– School record for career walks (160)
– School record for career stolen bases (67)
– School record for walks in a single season (49, 2009)
– School record for most walks in a single game (four, 2009)
– Longest hitting streak in school history (16, 2010)
– 2009 All-SEC First Team
– 2008-10 SEC All-Defensive Team
– 2009 SEC All-Tournament Team
– 2008 SEC All-Freshman Team

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Gators rip Crimson Tide 9-2, advance to play for national title in WCWS Championship Series

Playing and winning three elimination games on their way through the 2011 Women’s College World Series, No. 4 Florida Gators softball defeated the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide twice on Sunday to advance to the event’s Championship Series beginning on Monday. The Gators (56-11), after dismantling the Crimson Tide (53-11) with their bats by a tune of 16-2 earlier in the afternoon, utilized strong pitching and timely hitting to earn a 9-2 victory in the evening.

Freshman right-handed pitcher Hannah Rogers (36-7) retired the first 11 batters she faced and threw six shutout innings before allowing a pair of runs. She tossed a complete game, struck out seven and gave up only four hits and one base on balls.

Florida took it to Alabama right out of the gate once again on Sunday. Junior center fielder Michelle Moultrie (2-4, R) led off with a single to right, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by senior catcher Tiffany DeFelice (0-2, BB), and found her way home when senior left fielder Kelsey Bruder stepped up and hit a two-run homer to right-center. Sophomore right fielder Brittany Schutte wanted in on the fun and hit a solo shot to right-center to give her team an early 3-0 advantage.

The Gators increased the pressure on the Crimson Tide just two innings later. Bruder reached base after being hit by a pitch, and Schutte (2-4, HR, RBI, 2 R) moved her to second by singling to right. Senior first baseman Megan Bush (1-3, BB) singled to left to load the bases, and freshman shortstop Cheyenne Coyle (1-3, 2 RBI) hit a ball hard up the middle to score both runners and give UF a 5-0 lead.

The first five runs allowed were all attributed to Crimson Tide pitcher Kelsi Dunne, who gave up six hits and walked one while striking out three in two innings. She was tagged for a total of 11 earned runs in just 2.1 combined innings of action on Sunday.

Looking to extend their lead even further, Florida found themselves with runners on first and second with one out in the top of the fourth. Bruder (2-2, HR, 3 RBI, 3 R) hit a long fly ball to deep right-center that was eventually nabbed, but freshman third baseman Kasey Fagan (1-3, R) used it as an opportunity to tag up and score all the way from second base, putting the Gators ahead 6-0.

With two on and two out in the top of the seventh, UF struck one last time. Senior second baseman Aja Paculba (2-4, HR, 3 RBI, R) stepped up and sent a ball flying out of the park, hitting a three-run homer and capping another top-notch performance from the Orange and Blue offense.

Rogers kept Alabama off the bases through six but got tagged for a few hits in the seventh. She allowed two runs before closing out the game with a strikeout to cap her stellar showing. Bruder tied a WCWS record for most total runs scored in the event (eight), and Florida as a team has scored as many runs (41) as every other team in the WCWS combined. The Gators’ 41 runs are currently second-most in WCWS history.

Florida advances to the Championship Series and will play for the NCAA Championship for the second time in three seasons. They will take on No. 1 Arizona State (58-6), which earned a 6-5 walk-off victory against UF on Friday, in the three-game series beginning Monday at 8 p.m. live on ESPN2.

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Gators use 11-run first inning to dismantle Tide 16-2 in record-setting WCWS game

It started just like a normal softball game. The top of the first ended without much fanfare and the No. 4 Florida Gators were looking to put some runs on the board in the bottom of the inning to take an early lead. No one knew what was coming, especially the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide, who were looking to eliminate Florida from the 2011 Women’s College World Series with a victory early Sunday afternoon at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, OK.

What followed was a record-setting performance for the Gators (55-11), which scored 11 runs in the bottom of the first and demolished the Crimson Tide (53-10) 16-2 to stave off elimination in a five-inning run-ruled game.

Junior center fielder Michelle Moultrie got things started for Florida with a solo shot to center. Senior catcher Tiffany DeFelice (1-3, R) singled to center and was joined on the bags by senior left fielder Kelsey Bruder and sophomore right fielder Brittany Schutte, who were each walked to load the bases.

Freshman shortstop Cheyenne Coyle was hit by a pitch to score another run, and senior second baseman Aja Paculba (1-2, RBI, 2 R, BB) was walked to plate a third and end the day of Alabama pitcher Kelsi Dunne, who was replaced by Jackie Traina.

Traina started her effort by walking sophomore designated player Ensley Gammel and allowing freshman third baseman Kasey Fagan to hit an RBI single, putting the Gators ahead 6-0. All of Dunne’s base runners scored, giving her six earned runs on two hits with three walks and a hit batter in just 0.1 inning.

A double steal attempt with Fagan (1-2, 2 RBI, R, SB) and Gammel allowed the latter to cross the plate, and a single up the middle from Moultrie (2-3, HR, RBI, 2 R, SB) put runners on the corners before she swiped second. With two outs, Bruder (0-0, 3 R, 3 BB) walked on four-straight pitches to load the bases for Schutte (1-1, GS, 4 RBI, 3 R, 2 BB), who took advantage of the opportunity with a grand slam to conclude the 11-run frame.

Florida set a WCWS record with 11 runs in a single inning, snapping the mark previously held by UCLA against UF (nine, 2010). The Orange and Blue also tattooed Alabama for more runs in one inning than they’ve given up in a single game all season. The Crimson Tide gave the Gators six free passes in the inning, walking five batters and hitting one.

Alabama got on the board in the top of the second with a solo shot to right, but Gammel (1-2, HR, 3 RBI, 2 R, SB, BB) responded with a two-run homer in the bottom of the inning to put Florida ahead 13-1. Traina was pulled at the end of the inning, leaving after coughing up seven earned runs on five hits with three walks in 1.2 innings of work.

The Gators continued their onslaught in the third when Coyle’s (1-1, HR, 4 RBI, 2 R, BB) three-run bomb gave them a 16-1 advantage and tied the WCWS single-game record for team homers in a game (four). Florida’s 15 RBI were also a WCWS single-game record, and the 16 runs scored by UF through three innings are the most given up in a single game by UA softball in school history.

Senior right-handed pitcher Stephanie Brombacher (20-2) went the entire way for the Gators, striking out seven while allowing two runs on solo homers. She only gave up three hits and did not walk a single batter in five innings.

Florida and Alabama, each having now lost a game in the WCWS, will square off Sunday evening at 7 p.m. in an elimination game. The victor will move on to the WCWS Championship Series, which begins on Monday at 8 p.m. and airs live on ESPN2.

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Florida softball staves off elimination with 5-2 victory over California in WCWS

Facing elimination and a deficit, No. 4 Florida Gators softball (54-11) stuck together and came out on top Saturday, defeating the No. 7 California Golden Bears (45-14) 5-2 in a 2011 Women’s College World Series elimination game at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, OK. Florida put together a come-from-behind victory for the 15th time this season, fighting out of a rough start and 2-0 hole to keep themselves alive.

Freshman right-handed pitcher Hannah Rogers (35-7) got the start for the Gators but struggled early, allowing the Golden Bears to score a pair of runs in the first frame of the game. After a batter reached on an error from freshman shortstop Cheyenne Coyle, back-to-back hits scored two before Rogers could get out of the inning.

After two ground outs to begin the third, Florida began a rally with senior left fielder Kelsey Bruder hitting an infield single. Sophomore right fielder Brittany Schutte followed with a single to center, sending Bruder all the way to third. Senior first baseman Megan Bush (0-2, R, 2 BB) joined the ladies on base with a walk, and Coyle (1-3, RBI) added to the hit parade by singling to the shortstop to score Bruder (2-3, R, BB) and Schutte (2-4, R), who came home on a throwing error.

The Gators plated one more that inning, utilizing a single to center by senior second baseman Aja Paculba to score Bush from third and take a 3-2 lead.

Looking to increase their advantage, Florida added single runs in the fourth and fifth innings to jump ahead 5-2. Junior center fielder Michelle Moultrie punched a ball through the right side with one out in the fourth and stole second base to get in scoring position. Senior catcher Tiffany DeFelice (1-3, RBI, BB) rewarded her efforts with an infield, sending Moultrie home to score. Paculba got things started in the fifth with a double to center and, like Moultrie, improved her position on by stealing third. Three batters later, Moultrie (2-4, RBI, R, SB) was fortunate enough to mirror DeFelice’s RBI with an infield single of her own (due to the shortstop hesitating) to plate Paculba (2-3, RBI, R, SB).

After hitting a batter but getting out of the inning leaving and two on base in the fourth, Rogers was pulled for senior RHP Stephanie Brombacher. She was strong and efficient the rest of the way, only allowing one hit and one walk in three innings, locking up the game for the orange and blue.

UF’s victory over Cal is their third in the last four years; each time they have met, the Gators put an end to the Golden Bears’ season.

Florida advances to face No. 2 Alabama (53-9) at 1 p.m. on Sunday, live on ESPN. If the Gators win and a second contest is necessary, game two will begin at 7 p.m. (ESPN2). UF is 2-1 against UA this season (with wins on a walk-off home run and single, respectively, from Bruder); they will square off in the WCWS for the second time in the last three years.

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Arizona State walks off with 6-5 win over Florida in Women’s College World Series

The game may have begun Friday night but no conclusion was reached until early Saturday morning as No. 4 Florida Gators softball and the No. 1 Arizona State Sun Devils fought back-and-forth hoping to earn a victory in their second game of the 2011 Women’s College World Series. ASU (57-6) eventually came away with a 6-5 win over UF (53-11) at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, OK, getting the final say in the matter with a walk-off single in the final frame of the game.

Read the game story and find out about Saturday’s contest…after the break!
Continue Reading » Arizona State walks off with 6-5 win over Florida in Women’s College World Series

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Florida softball responds from 3-2 loss to run-rule UCLA 11-3, advance to NCAA Super Regionals

It was a tale of two games for No. 3 Florida Gators softball (50-10), which struggled to hit the ball early in the day but hit the cover off it in the late afternoon to win the Gainesville Regional and advance to the 2011 NCAA Super Regionals. Florida fell in a come-from-behind 3-2 win by the UCLA Bruins (36-19) but powered their way to victory in the second contest, earning an 11-3 decision at Pressly Softball Stadium.

Senior right-handed pitcher Stephanie Brombacher got the start for Florida in the first game and got out of numerous jams until being pulled with two runners on in the bottom of the fifth. Freshman RHP Hannah Rogers relieved her but ended up allowing one of Brombacher’s runners to score before the inning was over.

The Gators offense responded immediately, utilizing a walk and hit-by-pitch to score twice on in the top of the sixth. Florida called a double steal to place junior pinch runner Lauren Heil (in for senior first baseman Megan Bush) on third and freshman shortstop Cheyenne Coyle on second with one out.

Senior catcher Tiffany DeFelice (0-1, RBI), the next batter, hit a sacrifice fly to left to score Heil; an error at third forced by Colye (1-1, R, BB, 3 SB) sliding into the baseman’s foot let the ball loose and allowed her to score the Gators’ second run of the inning.

After getting through the sixth, Florida entered the bottom of the seventh looking to end the game. UCLA would have none of it, getting their lead-off runner on base and scoring her two batters later on a RBI single. The Bruins’ rally continued as UCLA loaded the bases with two outs. A single to right-center by right fielder Amy Crawford plated 1B Andrea Harrison, gave the Bruins the victory and forced a second and final game.

Florida only registered one hit in the opening game and failed to take advantage of their numerous base running opportunities. The Gators stole seven bags in the contest but left six runners on base, many of whom were in scoring position.

Rogers drew the start in the second game and was clutch early, getting out of a bases loaded jam in the top of the first. Florida rewarded her for her efforts, loading the bases in the bottom of the inning and getting on the board right away.

Bush smacked a two-RBI single to score junior center fielder Michelle Moultrie and senior second baseman Aja Paculba, and Coyle followed with an infield single that was thrown home but bobbled for an error to allow two more runs and put the Gators ahead 4-0. DeFelice (1-3, HR, 2 RBI, R) did not want the fun to end and jacked a two-run bomb to left with one out to give Florida an early 6-0 advantage. Moultrie (2-4, RBI, 2 R, 2 SB) and Paculba (2-2, 2 RBI, R, BB, SB) followed by returning the favor from earlier in the inning with one-RBI and two-RBI singles to give the Gators a 9-0 lead.

The next two innings were all Rogers, who struck out the side in the top of the second and was faced with another bases loaded jam in the third. Instead of panicking, she forced a 1-2-3 double play and ended the third with a strikeout, her fifth of the afternoon.

Florida tacked two more runs on in the fourth when Coyle (2-3, HR, 3 RBI, 2 R, SB) stepped up with junior PR Ellie Langley on base (in place of sophomore RF Brittany Schutte) and hit a homer to left to put her team ahead 11-0. Rogers (32-6) was roughed up a bit in the top of the fifth and gave up three runs but eventually tossed three more outs and earned a win against UCLA in a five-inning, run-ruled game hours after taking a tough loss. She allowed seven hits and notched six strikeouts in the second game.

The victory advances the Gators to the Super Regional, which will be hosted in Gainesville, FL as Florida takes on No. 13 Oregon beginning Fri., May 27.

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Florida softball wins twice, set for regional final

Hosting the Gainesville Regional as part of the 2011 NCAA Tournament, No. 3 Florida Gators softball (49-9) earned a pair of victories over the weekend and advanced to the regional final set for Sunday at 1 p.m. at Pressly Softball Stadium.

Florida got the tournament started by shutting out the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats (33-25) 8-0 in five innings on Friday. With senior right-handed pitcher Stephanie Brombacher (18-2) on the mound, the Gators took care of the Wildcats early by rallying for four runs in the bottom of the first inning. Florida added two more scores each in the third and fifth innings to cruise to victory.

Brombacher (5.0 IP, 5 K, 3 H, BB) tossed a gem for the Gators, only allowing three hits while striking out five and receiving plenty of help at the plate from her teammates. Freshman shortstop Cheyenne Coyle (2-2, HR, 3 RBI, R) led UF offensively, but the Gators also got stellar performances from junior center fielder Michelle Moultrie (2-3, 2 RBI, R) and sophomore right fielder Brittany Schutte (1-3, 2 RBI, R).

The result was the same on Saturday though the effort to earn it was much greater. Florida stayed aggressive in front of the home crowd and defeated the No. 14 UCLA Bruins (34-18) 4-2.

UCLA led early, utilizing a two-run homer from left fielder B.B. Bates in the first inning to put UF on its heels. However, the Gators responded quickly by scoring single runs in the bottom of the first, second and third to jump ahead 3-2.

Senior first baseman Megan Bush (1-2, RBI, BB) knocked Moultrie (1-2, RBI, R, SB) home in the first, and Moultrie returned the favor in the second with a RBI double to score freshman third baseman Kasey Fagan (0-3, R, SB), who reached on a throwing error before stealing second base. Senior second baseman Aja Paculba (1-1, 2 R, BB, SB) reached on a walk in the third, stole second and advanced to third on an illegal pitch before scoring on a passed ball.

Florida tacked on one more run in the bottom of the fifth as Paculba hit a single with one out and eventually scored on a wild pitch. The Gators notched five stolen bases on the afternoon as freshman RHP Hannah Rogers (31-5) allowed two unearned runs on five hits while walking one and striking out nine in a complete game effort.

UF will face either UCLA or Jacksonville in the regional final on Sunday.

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