OKLAHOMA CITY — In last season’s NCAA Super Regional, the Florida softball team ended Arizona State’s attempt to reach the Women’s College World Series for the third straight year.
On Friday, the Sun Devils got their revenge.
With the game tied at five in the bottom of the seventh, ASU’s Annie Lockwood hit a bases-loaded single to deflate the Gators 6-5. Florida is one loss away from coming up short at the WCWS for the fourth straight year.
Arizona State (57-6) attacked early tagging Florida senior Stephanie Brombacher for three early runs in the first two innings to knock her out of the game.
In the first, Brombacher gave up an RBI single with two outs to Lockwood. Despite giving up two more singles after that to load up the bases, she got out of the inning with no further harm.
In the second, ASU got on base with two bunt singles, the second of which Brombacher fielded trying to get the lead runner on second, but the ball sailed into the outfield past center fielder Michelle Moultrie allowing Alix Johnson to score on the error.
In the next at-bat, Brombacher gave up a RBI-single to Katelyn Boyd bringing the score to 3-0 and an end to her day in the second inning with no outs.
“I made the wrong decision,” Brombacher said in regards to the error while fighting to hold in the tears. “I cost my team the game.”
After freshman All-American pitcher Hannah Rogers replaced the senior in the circle, she gave up a third inning run to the Sun Devils that brought ASU’s lead up to four.
But Florida answered in the top of the fourth scoring five runs off of six hits, including two-run homers from both Tiffany DeFelice and Moultrie that tied the game.
Sophomore Brittany Schutte then hit a double to left-center driving in Aja Paculba to give UF the 5-4 lead, but the inning came to a close as Kelsey Bruder was tagged out at home trying to score from first.
In the bottom of the fourth, Rogers retired the first two batters with ease, but gave up a home run to Lockwood that tied the game at five.
In the final three innings, Florida’s offense had the same number of opportunities to score as a runner reached second all three frames, but the Gators could not convert with runners in scoring position.
“I thought Arizona State was the better ball club tonight,” Florida head coach Tim Walton said. “I thought they did a really good job of putting pressure on us all night; really good hitters, tough to strike out. It’s just tough. It was a fight.”
Walton said to ESPN’s Holly Rowe during the in-game interviews that he didn’t know how his team was going to get ASU out after taking the lead.
Rogers didn’t have the answer either as she gave up three runs from five hits to the Sun Devils, who got the freshman to also surrender eight walks.
“Hannah’s a strike thrower, so for me to look down here and see eight walks says a lot,” Walton said. “They obviously did a good job.”
Florida will look to extend its season as they will play the winner of the noon matchup between California and Oklahoma State at 7 p.m. Both games will be played on Saturday.
When asked about what it was going to take to rally the Gators for tomorrow’s game, Walton said he had not given the idea any thought yet.
Still he gave credit where credit was due.
“I think they’re one of the best teams we’ve seen all year long, hands down, and we just weren’t quite good enough tonight,” Walton 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.