Florida softball falls on final out vs. Arizona State

Arizona State celebrates after defeating Florida during the Women's College World Series softball championship at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, Friday, June 3, 2011. (Photo by The Associated Press)

Published: Friday, June 3, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, June 4, 2011 at 1:14 a.m.

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Florida Gators, who have lived by the home run all season, couldn't hit enough balls far enough to overcome Arizona State at the Women's College World Series on Friday night.


Today's games

*California (44-12) vs. Oklahoma St. (42-19), Noon, ESPN
*Oklahoma (42-18) vs. Missouri (52-9), 2:30 p.m., ESPN
*Florida (53-11) vs. California/Okla. St. winner, 7 p.m., ESPN 2
*Baylor (46-14) vs. Oklahoma/Missouri winner, 9:30 p.m., ESPN2

Florida's big bats made it interesting, but Arizona State matched the Gators well enough in the power department and took advantage of a shaky pitching start by Stephanie Brombacher to advance in the winner's bracket with a 6-5 victory.

Florida (53-11) will play Saturday at 7 p.m. against the Oklahoma State-Cal winner in an elimination game on ESPN2, and will then have to win twice on Sunday to make the best-of-three national championship series if it gets through Saturday's game.

This time, Florida was on the losing end of the bottom-of-the-seventh-inning fireworks. A one-out walk turned out to be the catalyst for the Sun Devils. Katelyn Boyd, a top-three national player of the year finalist, stroked a single to right field that moved Talor Haro all the way to third. Boyd stole second, and Haro was thrown out at the plate when Lesley Rogers hit a grounder to third.

That left Boyd on third base with two outs, and Florida pitcher Hannah Rogers loaded the bases with a walk to bring up Annie Lockwood, who was already 2-for-2 with a home run on the night.

Lockwood worked the count to 2-2, then drilled a hot shot to third base, which bounded off Kasey Fagan's glove to bring in the winning run.

Florida coach Tim Walton stuck with his strategy of starting senior ace Brombacher over freshman second-team All-American Hannah Rogers, and maybe went with the upperclassman one time too many and stayed with her for a bit too long.

Arizona State (54-6) got a run in the first inning on outfielder Lockwood's RBI single. Brombacher gave up two more singles with two outs, but got out of the situation with a pop-up.

Brombacher gave up two more singles and committed a two-base error to allow a run to score before being lifted in favor of Rogers without recording an out in the second after Katelyn Boyd's RBI single gave the Sun Devils a 3-0 lead.

Mandy Urfer hit a solo home run to put Arizona State up 4-0 in the third before Florida put on a display of power hitting to take the lead in the top of the fourth.

Catcher Tiffany DeFelice woke up Florida's bats when she cranked a two-run shot to left field, and leadoff hitter Michelle Moultrie followed soon after with a two-run homer to center field to tie the game.

Outfielder Brittany Schutte gave Florida the lead with an RBI double as the Gators began to zero in on Arizona State freshman Dallas Escobedo, a first-team All-American who took the Sun Devils to the Pac-10 title.

Arizona State answered quickly in the bottom of the fourth to tie the game at 5-all on Lockwood's solo homer.

And for all its big-bat power in the fourth inning, Florida wasn't able to sustain its offense as Escobedo battled for 174 pitches to get the win.

Both teams blew chances late.

The Gators wasted a leadoff double by Moultrie, who went 3-for-4, in the top of the sixth. A pop-up, a fly ball and a strikeout left her standing on second.

Arizona State, which scored in every inning but one, got a leadoff walk from outfielder Lesley Rogers to start the bottom of the sixth. After Rogers coaxed an infield pop-up for the first out, the Gators intentionally walked the dangerous Lockwood to get to Krista Donnenwirth, who lined out to Moultrie. ASU first baseman Urfer drew a two-out walk to load the bases for Sam Parlich, who grounded to third for the force-out.

Florida left Megan Bush stranded on second in the top of the seventh as another opportunity slipped away.

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