Freshman Hannah Rogers tossed her 10th shutout of the season, a 7-0 Gator victory, as the No. 3 University of Florida softball team advanced to its fourth consecutive Women’s College World Series, becoming the first Southeastern Conference team to accomplish the feat.
Sophomore Brittany Schutte smashed her third home run of the series in the sixth, plating three runs, while senior Kelsey Bruder sent two runners home in the fourth with a hard-hit single up the middle. The Gators also had one run in the second and third innings, one off an Oregon error and a RBI double by senior Megan Bush, respectively.
The Gators are the third team to punch their ticket to the Women’s College World Series, as Alabama and Arizona State nabbed two of the eight spots Friday night. Florida improved to 37-24 in the NCAA Tournament, 9-2 in Super Regional play after this weekend’s victories against Oregon and will enter the 2011 College World Series with a 7-6 record.
Schutte’s home run helped Florida eclipse its own single-season and SEC single-season home runs record, with 110, and tied Schutte for most home runs in a season at 20, a record also held by Bush this season. Bruder now has 69 runs scored this season, tying her for first in the UF record books with classmate Aja Paculba in 2009, as well as 140 total bases this season, a school record. The squad also set a new individual season record with 938 total bases. Junior Michelle Moultrie now leads Florida in stolen bases in a single season with 28 after tallying one today.
Moultrie led the Gators, going 3-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI. Rogers earned her 33rd season victory for the Gators (52-10), allowing just four hits and one walk while fanning three.
Jessica Moore shouldered the loss for the Ducks (42-16) for the second time in as many days by giving up seven runs on eight hits and four walks while striking out four in 5.2 innings of work. Brittany Rumfelt tossed the final 1.1 innings and struck out three.
The Gators tallied their first run in the second when junior Ellie Langley scored her 11th run of the season as a pinch runner for senior Tiffany DeFelice, who reached on a walk. DeFelice advanced to second on a base hit to third by freshman Kasey Fagan before being replaced by Langley, who hustled home on an error by the Oregon second baseman, allowing Moultrie to reach first. Florida ended the inning with the 1-0 lead when senior Paculba went down swinging.
The bottom of the second saw the three Duck batters go down in order with a foul out, a fly out and a ground out to maintain the Gator lead. In the top of the third, Schutte added her fourth run of the series in the top of the third on a RBI-double from Bush after she drew a walk. Two subsequent groundouts left Bush on base to end the inning and cap the score at 2-0 heading to the fourth.
Bruder plated two runs in the fourth increasing Florida’s lead to 4-0. Sophomore Ensley Gammel drew a walk after Fagan flied out and Moultrie laid down her 19th bunt of the season for a base hit to put both runners on. A passed ball moved both Gators into scoring position before a walk by Paculba loaded the bases. Bruder then smacked a single up the middle, allowing both Gammel and Moultrie to come home before Bruder was called out trying to advance to second. A Schutte strikeout ended the frame for Florida.
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Schutte, who went 3-for-4 with five runs and seven RBI on the weekend, added her third home run in Super Regional play in the sixth, this one for three runs with two outs. Gammel opened with a single to center field, but was tagged out at third by the pitcher when she tried to round the bases on a bunt single by Moultrie. Moultrie then stole second, setting a school record for stolen bases in a season with 28, and moved to third on a Paculba ground out. With two outs on the board, Schutte smacked a three-run bomb to right-center to bring the score to 7-0. Oregon then replaced Moore with Rumfelt, who succeeded in striking Bush out to end the inning.
The Gators brought the defense in the bottom of the sixth by forcing a fly out from Courtney Ceo before Rogers gave up her fourth and final hit of the game to Kaylan Howard. Howard did not remain on base for long, as Moultrie forced Samantha Pappas into a double play as she caught a fly out on her knees and then fired to first for the final out.
Although Florida did not add any runs in the seventh, they kept Oregon off base to secure the win by forcing two batters to fly out and one to ground out.
Florida is the first team from the SEC to advance to its fourth consecutive Women’s College World Series, all under the watch of head coach Tim Walton. Florida made an appearance in the 2009 Championship Series against Washington.