UF softball erupts on offense for two more wins

The Florida softball team used 28 total runs and six home runs, including a grand slam, on the second day of the 2011 Lipton Invitational Saturday to escalate to 18-0 on the season with a chance to tie the program record Sunday with the most wins to kick off a season (19). After topping Valparaiso and Syracuse in Friday’s action, the No. 2/3 Gators first topped North Dakota State, 18-0, in five innings, then Pacific, 10-2, in six, with freshman Kasey Fagan highlighting the day with a grand slam against the Bison.

Florida’s five-inning shutout against North Dakota State marked the 10th time the Gators have blanked an opponent this season and the sixth time the Orange and Blue have shortened a game to five innings by run rule.

In the first all-time meeting between the Bison and Gators, UF (18-0,0-0 SEC) came away victorious in a game that resulted in a program-high 18 walks drawn. The team is now also tied for fourth in the record books for runs scored in a game. Seniors Aja Paculba and Megan Bush both went 2-for-3 with two runs apiece, one homer for Paculba. Bush later dropped a solo bomb against Pacific in UF’s second game of the day.

Senior Stephanie Brombacher secured her 10th win of the season, her fifth shutout, allowing just two hits, one walk and five Ks in five innings of work.

Katie Tamayo shouldered the loss for North Dakota State (7-11, 0-0 Summit League) as she gave up nine hits, 18 runs and 15 walks without striking out a single one of the 36 batters she faced in 3.2 innings of work.

The first inning saw five consecutive Gators draw walks, resulting in three runs from junior Michelle Moultrie, sophomore Brittany Schutte and Paculba.

Florida capitalized on three walks and three errors to add six runs in the second, highlighted by a two-run shot over the scoreboard by sophomore Kelsey Horton. Moultrie and Schutte added their second runs of the game, while Bush, Fagan and senior Kelsey Bruder also crossed home plate to give the Gators the 9-0 advantage.

The Gators tallied two more runs in the third against the Bison, starting with a home run over the left-field fence by Paculba, her fifth of the season. Schutte then reached on a walk and came home after a single by Bush, a hit-by-pitch and a sac fly, giving Florida a double-digit lead,11-0.

Fagan helped the Gators add seven runs in the fourth when she smacked a grand slam to left field with two outs. Paculba led off the inning with a double, followed by walks earned by Bruder and Schutte. Bush roped a single to left field, scoring junior Ashley Snedeker, who was running for Paculba. Another walk and a wild pitch scored Bruder, while Schutte came home on a single by Coyle. With the bases loaded, Fagan hit her first career home run and grand slam, giving the Gators 18 total runs against the Bison. Fagan’s grand slam marked the fourth for the Gators this season.

UF improved to 4-0 all-time against Pacific in a match where every Gator starter had a hit. Freshman Hannah Rogers (Winter Haven, Fla.) earned the win in the six-inning game while giving up four hits, two runs, one walk and striking out five. Tori Shepard suffered the loss for Pacific (9-4, 0-0 Big West), giving up 11 hits, eight runs and three walks while striking out three, moving to 2-2 on the season.

The Gators struck first when Horton hit her second homer of the day, a shot to center field to lead off the second, but that was the only run to be tallied until the fourth, when Pacific added a two-shot homer to give the Tigers the 2-1 lead. Lindsey Pierce led off with a single to short and came home when Nicole Matson hit a long ball to right center.

The Tiger’s lead was short-lived, as the Gators added five in the bottom of the fifth. Moultrie and Paculba singled to set up a three-run homer for Schutte, while Bush followed up with a solo shot of her own. Junior Ellie Langley came in to pinch run following a Horton single, then stole second and scored on a single by Coyle, putting the score at 6-2.

Florida turned up the heat in the bottom of the sixth, scoring four more runs to enforce a run-rule. The bases were loaded after Moultrie and Paculba hit back-to-back singles and Bruder reached on a fielder’s choice, allowing Schutte’s walk to send Moultrie home. Bush then singled down the left-field line, sending Paculba and Bruder hustling around the bases to score. The Gators added their final run when Schutte advanced to third on a hit-by-pitch and then scored on a single by Fagan.

The final day of the Lipton Invitational kicks off at 9 a.m. Sunday from Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium, starting with NDSU versus Pacific, followed by Syracuse and Valparaiso (11:30 a.m.) and Florida’s final day of the tournament against Gardner-Webb at 2 p.m.