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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FOUR BITS: USA Softball, Maddox, Claye, NCAA

1 » Two Florida Gators softball players, junior center fielder Michelle Moultrie and sophomore right fielder Brittany Schutte, were named to the 2011 USA Softball Women’s National Team on Friday. Unfortunately, senior first baseman Megan Bush and freshman shortstop Cheyenne Coyle also competed for positions on the team but were not selected. Team USA will be competing in a number of events over the next five months including the World Cup of Softball VI and XVI Pan American Games.

2 » Reports coming out of Omaha, NE have Florida head baseball coach Kevin O’Sullivan giving sophomore first baseman/closer Austin Maddox (foot) a thumbs up to play with the team during the 2011 College World Series. Maddox has not played since injuring his foot while catching a pop foul on June 3. Should he be a go for the CWS, Maddox will give the Gators a pair of starting two-way players [sophomore left-handed pitcher/designated hitter Brian Johnson (concussion)] who are returning from injury just in time.

3 » Florida junior jumper Will Claye has been named the 2011 USTFCCCA National Field Athlete of the Year, the organization announced on Thursday. A transfer from Oklahoma, Claye won the 2011 NCAA Indoor Championship and 2011 Southeastern Conference Championship in the triple jump as well as another SEC title in the long jump this year alone. He was also named 2011 SEC Outdoor Field Athlete of the Year this season.

4 » The Gators football program self-reported two secondary violations to the SEC and NCAA in January, according to the Orlando Sentinel’s Rachel George, who received the information via a records request. Florida disclosed that one assistant coach responded to a text message from a recruit and another called a recruit twice in one week. The school instituted a mandatory no-contact period from May 1-14 in order to atone for the mistakes. NCAA rules state that coaches cannot text recruits until they sign with the school; additionally, coaches can only call recruits once per week.

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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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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 claws Mizzou 6-2 to win WCWS opener

Appearing in their fourth-straight Women’s College World Series, No. 4 Florida Gators softball (53-10) got off to a hot start and held off the No. 5 Missouri Tigers (52-9) to take a 6-2 opening round victory and advance in the winners bracket at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, OK.

The Gators scored early and often to start the game. Junior center fielder Michelle Moultrie led off the first with a single, advanced to second on a dropped infield popup and scored one batter later when senior left fielder Kelsey Bruder hit a screamer up the middle for a stand-up triple. Sophomore right fielder Brittany Schutte (0-2, RBI) then brought Bruder home with a sacrifice squeeze to put Florida ahead 2-0 early on.

After getting the Tigers out in order in the top of the first inning, senior right-handed pitcher Stephanie Brombacher got herself into a pickle in the second. With two runners on and no one out, Brombacher was able to wiggle her way out of the inning with a pop out and a pair of clutch strikeouts.

She got in trouble again in the third and was pulled from the game with one out and runners on first and third. Freshman RHP Hannah Rogers relieved her and walked the first batter to load the bases but delivered a strikeout and forced a fly out to end the inning without allowing any damage. Mizzou stranded five total base runners in the two innings.

Flexing their muscles in the bottom of the third, the Gators jumped out to a 5-0 lead thanks to a pair of powerful home runs. Moultrie (2-3, HR, RBI, 2 R, SB, BB) led off the inning with a solo shot to center, and senior first baseman Megan Bush (2-3, HR, 2 RBI, R) hit a two-run bomb to left, scoring Bruder (1-1, RBI, 2 R, 2 BB) from third and setting Florida’s single-season record for homers in a season (21) in the process.

The Tigers answered back in the sixth, getting runners on first and second with no outs early in the inning and fighting to get them home after giving up back-to-back outs. Missouri LF Lisa Simmons hit a two-RBI double to deep left-center, scoring both base runners and reducing their deficit to three runs, 5-2.

Florida did what they could to respond in the bottom of the inning. Freshman shortstop Cheyenne Coyle (1-2, R, BB) walked to lead off the frame, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by senior catcher Tiffany DeFelice (0-2), and scored two batters later to give the Gators a 6-2 lead when sophomore designated player Ensley Gammel (2-3, RBI) singled to right center.

The six runs Florida scored against Mizzou starter Chelsea Thomas were the most she has given up all season. Rogers (34-6) earned the win for the Gators after striking out four, walking three and allowing a pair of hits in 4.2 innings.

The Gators advanced in the winner’s bracket and will face No. 1 Arizona State (56-6), which beat Oklahoma (42-18) 3-1 on Thursday, at 9:30 p.m. on Friday. The game will air live on ESPN and ESPN3.com.

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Gators roll over Ducks 7-0, advance to fourth-straight Women’s College World Series

The first team in Southeastern Conference history to advance to four-straight Women’s College World Series, No. 3 Florida Gators softball (52-10) moved on in the 2011 NCAA Tournament with a 7-0 victory over the No. 11 Oregon Ducks (42-16) on Saturday in Super Regionals action at Pressly Softball Stadium in Gainesville, FL.

Florida won game one 9-1 and outscored Oregon 16-1 over the weekend.

Freshman right-handed pitcher Hannah Rogers (33-6) got the start for the Gators and was consistently productive all afternoon. She tossed a complete game shutout, striking out three batters, walking one and allowing only four hits in seven innings.

With runners on first and second in the top of the second, Florida junior center fielder Michelle Moultrie hit an infield single up the middle to advance the runners. An error by Oregon second baseman Kaylan Howard allowed junior pinch runner Ellie Langley, in for senior catcher Tiffany DeFelice (0-3, BB), to score and put the Gators up 1-0.

Florida added another run in the third, when senior first baseman Megan Bush (1-4, RBI) doubled deep to right center, scoring sophomore right fielder Brittany Schutte (on base via a walk) from first to give the Gators a 2-0 advantage.

After Florida loaded the bases in the top of the fourth, senior left fielder Kelsey Bruder (1-3, 2 RBI, R, BB) stepped up and worked her way to a full count. Two pitches later, she singled up the middle to score Moultrie (3-4, RBI, 2 R, SB) and sophomore designated player Ensley Gammel (1-2, R, BB) but was called out at second after trying to stretch it into a double. Schutte followed her by striking out but leaving the Gators with a 4-0 lead heading into the second half of the game.

Looking to close out the contest by tacking on some more runs, Florida found themselves with Schutte at the plate with runners on first and third in the top of the sixth. On the first pitch of her at bat, Schutte (1-2, HR, 3 RBI, 2 R, 2 BB) rocketed the ball out of the park, hitting a three-run homer and propelling her team ahead 7-0. Her performance on Saturday completed a fantastic weekend for the power hitter. Schutte concluded the Super Regionals going 3-4 with three homers, seven RBI, five runs scored and three walks.

The Ducks threatened to score in the bottom of the sixth, but Moultrie nabbed a fly ball in center and tossed it back to first to get the inning-ending double play. Rogers got Oregon’s batters out in order in the seventh to end the game and clinch the Gators’ WCWS berth.

Florida will face either No. 5 Missouri or No. 12 Washington in the first round of the WCWS. UF lost to UW in the final series of the 2009 WCWS.

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