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

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sun Devils sweep Gators in Women’s College World Series to capture national title

Just two years ago, Florida Gators softball entered the Women’s College World Series and fought their way to the finals before losing in back-to-back games to Washington, the top-ranked team in the country.

Two years later, No. 4 Florida powered themselves back to the WCWS Championship Series but suffered a similar fate, dropping consecutive contests to the No. 1 Arizona State Sun Devils and handing another NCAA Championship to a Pac-10 opponent.

The Gators (56-13) fell 7-2 to the Sun Devils (60-6) on Tuesday in the second and final game of the series, ending a spectacular season and great 2011 NCAA Tournament run with a thud at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, OK.

Playing the final game of her softball career, senior right-handed pitcher Stephanie Brombacher (who has decided to retire from the sport after graduation) started the contest for Florida and got out of a tough spot in the first.

Arizona State stranded on a runner on third, but UF made sure not to follow suit in the bottom of the inning. Junior center fielder Michelle Moultrie led off by smacking a stand-up double up the middle, advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt, and crossed the plate two batters later when sophomore right fielder Brittany Schutte flied out to deep left. Moultrie’s hit tied the WCWS record for most by a single player in the event (13).

The Sun Devils made up for their missed opportunity, beginning the second with three hits and tying the game on a bases loaded walk. With one out, shortstop Katelyn Boyd singled through the right side, scoring two and giving ASU a 3-1 lead before Brombacher retired the final two batters. Arizona State increased their advantage to 5-1 in the third when designated player Alix Johnson dropped a two-RBI blooper into shallow right.

Brombacher (20-3) was pulled for freshman RHP Hannah Rogers to begin the fourth, and the young hurler got out of the top of the inning unscathed. The Gators hit three balls hard in the bottom of the inning but all resulted in long fly outs near the warning track.

ASU added another run in the fifth, scoring on a two-out RBI single, but a play at the plate ended the frame and left the Sun Devils with a 6-1 lead. Arizona State tacked on one more in the sixth courtesy of a solo homer by RF Annie Lockwood.

UF still went down fighting with senior catcher Tiffany DeFelice hitting a RBI single with two outs in the seventh to score sophomore DP Ensley Gammel, who got on base with a single of her own to lead off the inning.

Sun Devils freshman starter Dallas Escobedo (37-3) led her team throughout the event and once again in the championship series but received plenty of help on Tuesday from Boyd and Johnson, each of whom contributed three-RBI outings at the plate.

Though they posted a record-setting performance in the tournament, Florida failed in their bid to become the first Southeastern Conference team to capture a WCWS title. It was the third time in the last five years that teams from the SEC and Pac-10 went head-to-head for the championship.

2011 NCAA Tournament Honors
Co-Most Valuable Player: Michelle Moultrie
All-Tournament Team: Moultrie, Kelsey Bruder, Brittany Schutte, Cheyenne Coyle

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

WCWS: Gators question officiating after game

Questionable, inconsistent and often bewildering calls were made behind home plate during No. 4 Florida Gators softball’s 6-5 loss to the No. 1 Arizona State Sun Devils on Friday. So when Florida stepped onto the field Monday for the first game of the 2011 Women’s College World Series Championship Series only to find umpire Chris Drumm behind home plate once again, they could only wonder how the officiating might play out.

The Gators got their answer right away when senior catcher Tiffany DeFelice was plunked by a pitch on her right forearm but Drumm refused to send her to first base and call a hit by pitch. Instead, she claimed the knob of DeFelice’s bat hit the ball first and sent her back to the plate even though head coach Tim Walton passionately argued otherwise. DeFelice, with a runner on first and no one out, flied out just a few pitches later.

In the bottom of the first, Drumm’s calls on balls and strikes were equally questionable and likely influenced Arizona State’s ability to score their first run of the game. Her inconsistent strike zone seemed to play a role throughout the remainder of the contest.

At the post-game press conference, DeFelice and senior left fielder Kelsey Bruder spoke candidly about Drumm’s performance behind the plate. Below are some comments made by the players as well as a response from NCAA director of championships Sharon Cessna, as transcribed by Jeff Latzke of the Associated Press:

Bruder: “I’m looking forward to playing ASU without her behind the plate. I’m going to try to be as nice as possible, but I hope that whoever appoints her reevaluates her abilities. I’m not making any excuses. ASU absolutely kicked our butts and they deserved to win today, but it was really hard adjusting to the inconsistent calls.”

DeFelice: “[The ball] didn’t hit the bat at all. I don’t know if bone sounds like bat, but it hit me square in the arm. It swelled up like a snowball. I had to have my trainer wrap it up. I mean, it was a rough night with that umpire and it was rough night first time we had her too.”

Cessna: “I don’t think I have to defend [Drumm]. I think she called the game as she saw it. Because it may not have met the expectations or if they felt like they had an issue with her in a previous game and they came in with preconceived notions, that can happen both ways as well. I’m not necessarily going to defend her because I think she called the game as she saw it, and that’s what we ask them to do. She’s one of the six best umpires that we have, because we bring our best here.”

After returning to the hotel, Bruder felt it was necessary to clarify her post-game comments and published the following via her Twitter account: “Just so were all clear about the press conference, I have credit to asu and will again. THEY KICKED OUR BUTTS. they were better tonight. All I’m asking for is a fair strike zone for my pitchers and hitters. Again, this is not an excuse. I just want a fair shot.”

Florida rebounded from Friday’s loss to ASU by claiming victories in three consecutive elimination games. The Gators will face two more in the coming days if they hope to fight back and claim a WCWS title.

Photo Credit: Associated Press

Tags: , , , , , , ,

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.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 Page 1 of 3  1  2  3 »