Coming into the NCAA Super Regional, clean-up hitter Brittany Schutte had two hits in 13 at-bats during the NCAA tournament.
On Friday, she tied that hit count smashing two-run homers leading the Florida softball team to a 9-1 victory over Oregon in five innings.
In winning their third run-ruled game of the tournament, the Gators are one win away from reaching the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City for the fourth straight season.
The sophomore said her four-RBI performance against the Ducks was one of the better postseason games in her young career going forward.
“So far in the postseason I’ve been struggling so it definitely helped me a little bit to have a better game today,” she said.
Schutte smashed several balls that barely made it into foul territory during the game, including one that hit a SUV passing Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium resulting in a broken mirror in the first inning.
Several pitches later, she hit her first homer of the game that fell short of hitting the car again as it was on the side of the road while the owner was talking to police.
Schutte damaged no other cars during the rest of the game, but the Florida lineup did some damage against Oregon pitching tagging Jessica Moore and Samantha Skillingstad for nine runs off five hits in four innings combined.
Senior left fielder Kelsey Bruder, who also had a two-hit game for Florida, said she saw the ball well today against Moore, who is the Ducks’ sophomore ace.
“She threw a really good game for Oregon,” Bruder said, “but again, just seeing the ball and getting a bat on it helps the confidence of the entire team.”
As for Florida, both Stephanie Brombacher and Hannah Rogers saw time in the circle as they combined to three-hit the Ducks.
Brombacher gave up one run in the second, but looked strong in her three innings of work throwing just 45 pitches while recording three strikeouts for the win. Rogers also had three strikeouts in two innings of work while giving up only one hit.
Oregon and Florida began play minutes after 4 p.m., as rain and thunder pushed the original start time back two hours.
Oregon head coach Mike White said the rain delay “probably did affect” his eager and young team as Florida outplayed the Ducks from the start.
“I think the experience from the Gators showed through, White said. “We’re a still young team and still fighting to get that. Hopefully what we can do is take away from this game is how we should be in the future.”
Florida head coach Tim Walton said the rain delay was frustrating for him as his team was swinging the bat well during pregame warm-ups, but still had seven hits during the game.
“It’s easy to hit when everybody’s hitting,” Walton said. “I think that’s what makes it a lot easier for our team is when momentum is going our way, we swing the bat a whole lot different than the other way.”
The Gators look to continue riding the momentum on Saturday as they have two chances to either eliminate Oregon, or end their own season. Game two of the series begins at noon, with the if-necessary third game slated for 2:30 p.m.
As for Schutte’s production going forward, no Gator is more excited than Bruder.
“The better she hits, the better pitches I’ll see so hopefully she can continue to do that, I might get to see a couple more,” Bruder said.
Gator Country reporter Safid Deen can be reached at Safid@GatorCountry.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SafidDeenGC.