UF softball rips Tide again, advances to WCWS final

Home plate umpire Paul Edds, left, looks on as Florida's Kasey Fagan, right, evades the tag of Alabama catcher Kendall Dawson, center, to score in the fourth inning of a Women's College World Series game in Oklahoma City on Sunday. (Photo by The Associated Press)

Published: Sunday, June 5, 2011 at 9:24 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, June 5, 2011 at 9:24 p.m.

By Tommy Deas

NYT Regional Media Group

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Florida Gators went into Sunday needing to win two games to advance to the championship series at the Women’s College World Series.

Turned out all they needed was one inning.

Florida uncorked a record-setting 11-run barrage in the bottom of the first inning against Southeastern Conference rival Alabama, and rode the momentum from that outburst to win 16-2 and 9-2 at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium.

The Gators (56-11) will play Arizona State in a best-of-three series starting tonight at 8 p.m. on ESPN2.

The barrage came against an Alabama pitching staff that had gone 30 straight innings without giving up a run.

“For us to be able to put up that many runs is amazing,” Florida coach Tim Walton said.

Outfielder Michelle Moultrie set the tone on the third pitch the Gators saw when she sent a Kelsi Dunne offering over the fence in center field.

A single was followed by two walks to load the bases. Dunne, Alabama’s All-American pitcher with a history of problems against Florida, then hit a batter to bring in a run and walked in another, ending her start with one out, but the Gators didn’t let up on reliever Jackie Traina, the Crimson Tide’s freshman All-American.

Florida batted around and then some, with Brittany Schutte’s grand slam upping the score to 11-0.

Florida tied a WCWS record for runs scored in a game and set the record for runs in an inning.

“We just wanted to come out strong and get on top,” Moultrie said. “We did that and it was a great feeling to be able to come out and score 11 runs right away.”

The home run parade continued as Cheyenne Coyle and Ensley Gammel cleared the fences before the game was over.

Alabama got two solo shots, by Whitney Larsen and Jazlyn Lunceford, for its only runs off Stephanie Brombacher (20-2), who got the complete-game win.

The shock-and-awe effect of Florida’s first win carried over into the second game. Kelsey Bruder’s two-run shot, followed immediately by a solo home run by Schutte, spotted Florida a three-run lead in the top of the first.

Dunne lasted just two innings, with Traina going the rest of the way.

“I think our hitters came out ready to go right from pitch one again,” Walton said.

Aja Paculba added yet another home run to Florida’s parade as the Gators pushed their lead into the later innings. The Gators were up 9-0 before Alabama salvaged what it could with two runs in the bottom of the seventh.

Florida will now turn its attention to Arizona State, which beat the Gators 6-5 to send Florida to the losers’ bracket.

“This is the moment that you play for,” Bruder said. “This is everything to us, no other words.”

Said Moultrie, speaking of herself and the Gators: “It’s a good time of the season to peak, I guess.”

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