UF softball moves on to WCWS semifinals

Florida coach Tim Walton, right, huddles with his players during the fifth inning of a Women's College World Series game against California in Oklahoma City, Saturday, June 4, 2011. Florida won 5-2. (Photo by The Associated Press)

Published: Saturday, June 4, 2011 at 9:41 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, June 5, 2011 at 12:17 a.m.

OKLAHOMA CITY — After a heart-wrenching defeat to Arizona State the night before, the Florida Gators dug their Women's College World Series hole a little deeper Saturday before climbing out with a 5-2 stay-alive victory over the Cal Bears.


Sunday's game

What: Women's College World Series
Who: Florida vs. Alabama
When: 1 p.m.
Gainesville-area radio: 104.9 FM

*If Florida wins, the Gators take on Alabama again at 7 p.m. on ESPN2 with a chance to advance to the championship round on Monday.

Florida spotted Cal a two-run lead in the first inning before finally solving All-American pitcher Jolene Henderson. The Gators plated three runs in the bottom of the third inning to take the lead and pounded out 10 hits against a pitcher who began to tire in her second complete-game effort of the day.

“They came out and really put pressure on us early,” Florida coach Tim Walton said. “I'm proud of the way we responded to a little bit of adversity with our backs to the wall on elimination Saturday.”

Florida (54-11) advances to play Southeastern Conference rival Alabama in today's semifinal round. The Gators have to beat Alabama twice to advance to the best-of-three championship round, which begins Monday at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium.

Alabama vs. Florida is set for 1 p.m. ET on ESPN. A second game, if necessary, will be played at 7 p.m. on ESPN2.

“Bama is always an amazing game,” outfielder Kelsey Bruder said. “It's been back and forth through the years. ... It always ends in a dramatic fashion, so I'm definitely looking forward to it and seeing what both teams bring.”

Said Walton, “It's going to be a challenge, but the good thing is I've got these hitters on my side, I've got this team on our side, and we're going to get up to play Alabama — and the same thing for them, they're going to get up to play us.”

Cal (45-13) was ready for the Gators. Walton switched his pitching rotation, starting freshman Hannah Rogers (35-7), who gave up two singles and a double in the first inning. Those hits, combined with a Florida error, gave Cal a quick 2-0 lead.

Another Florida error and a couple of hits created a scoring situation for the Bears in the second, but Rogers pitched her way out of it.

The Gators' bats took control with two outs in the third. Bruder got things started with a single, and another single by Brittany Schutte and a walk loaded the bases for shortstop Cheyenne Coyle.

Coyle, who had grounded into an inning-ending out with the bases loaded in the second, came through this time with an infield RBI single. Cal shortstop Britt Vonk panicked and threw the ball away, allowing a second run to score to tie the game.

“I really wasn't thinking bases loaded, I need a hit. I was just trying to put the ball in play,” Coyle said.

Aja Paculba followed with an RBI single to give Florida a 3-2 lead.

The Gators added a run in the fourth on Tiffany DeFelice's RBI single, and got insurance in the fifth when Paculba doubled, stole third and scored on center fielder Michelle Moultrie's RBI single.

Walton handed the ball to senior Stephanie Brombacher in the fifth. She held Cal to one hit in three innings for the save.

“I had total confidence in Stephanie that she was going to close the game out,” Walton said.

Brombacher and Rogers combined for just one strikeout, but walked only one batter apiece.

Moultrie went 2-for-4 for the Gators, with Bruder, Schutte and Paculba adding two hits each.

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