FSU one-hits UF softball, but Gators come out on top
Published: Wednesday, May 4, 2011 at 8:21 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, May 4, 2011 at 8:21 p.m.
Florida softball coach Tim Walton said he didn't think one hit would be enough going into the top of the seventh against Florida State.
Who: Tennessee at Florida
When: Friday, 4:30 p.m.
Gainesville-area TV: Sun Sports
Gainesville-area radio: 104.9 FM
"They've been swinging the bats well lately," Walton said.
Yet that one hit, a solo home run from UF senior second baseman Aja Paculba, proved to be the difference for the Gators. After Paculba's blast in the bottom of the second, Florida (44-8) held on for a tense 1-0 win over the rival Seminoles at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium.
FSU (26-24) loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the seventh on two singles sandwiched around an error by UF first baseman Megan Bush. But freshman reliever Hannah Rogers got FSU left fielder Morgan Bullock to ground out to third to end the game.
"We always play them tight," said Florida senior Stephanie Brombacher, who pitched 4.2 innings for the win. "They are a good team and they always get up to play us."
Paculba belted a 3-2 pitch from FSU starter Sarah Hamilton over the left-field fence for her 15th home run of the season.
"I was just looking for a pitch to drive and she left a pitch up," Paculba said. "I saw it like a beach ball and put a good swing on it."
More often than not, Paculba's good swings have resulted in balls heading over the fence. Paculba, who came into her senior season with 19 career home runs, credited her increased power this season to weight training.
"She's really gotten stronger and there are a lot fewer holes in her swing," Walton said. "Those pitches that she was slapping over the second baseman's head as a freshman, she's now able to pull the ball to left field."
The rest of Florida's offense struggled against Hamilton, who struck out six while forcing six infield pop-ups in six innings. Florida was one-hit for the first time this season and the first time since Feb. 21, 2010 in a 1-0 win against East Carolina.
"Hamilton is a great pitcher," Paculba said. "That really contributed to it."
Brombacher (16-1) kept FSU off the scoreboard, scattering three hits in her 4.2 innings of work. Brombacher retired 12 straight before running into trouble in the fifth. After FSU catcher Celeste Gomez (Lake City) flied out to the warning track in left field, Kristie McConn followed with a single. Walton then lifted Brombacher for Rogers, who struck out three over the final 2.1 innings for her third save.
"I probably let her throw three pitches too many," Walton said. "The ball to the warning track was well struck."
But the combination of Brombacher early and the harder-throwing Rogers late led Florida to its sixth straight win. Florida has won 14 of its last 15 heading into its final regular season series this weekend at home against Tennessee.
"We've stuck together as a team and we've gotten our confidence back," Paculba said.