A barrage of home runs Saturday combined with a one-hitter by sophomore right-hander Stephanie Brombacher were the key ingredients in top-ranked Florida’s second victory to open the season, an 8-0 triumph over Baylor in six innings at the Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium.
By BRAD GOLDBACH
Junior Francesca Enea led off the fireworks with a mammoth 3-run home run to left-center in the bottom of the first inning, and the Gators never looked back.
“It was fun (hitting the home run),” Enea said of her 24th career home run. “Being the No. 4 hitter (cleanup) you’re kind of expected to do those type of things, so I feel like I got my job done and helped my team out.”
Sophomore Aja Paculba and senior Kim Waleszonia each hit homers as Florida scored eight runs on nine hits and four walks. Paculba reached base four times, including once on an error and once on a walk. She scored twice, drove in two runs and stole her second base of the season.
The long-ball showcase did not come as a surprise to Florida coach Tim Walton.
“I expected it,” Walton said. “Those gals are hitting them. Heck, yeah! We have some good players. I thought we did a good job, a much better job with all of our at-bats. It’s easy to swing the bat when everyone is hitting.”
Brombacher was thankful for the team’s offensive output. “That makes a pitcher’s life easy,” she said. “When you know that your team is going to put eight runs on the board, you can pretty much go out there, relax and just throw the ball.”
But Brombacher put on a performance of her own, with eight strikeouts and only one walk in six innings of work.
“It feels great to start the season off like that,” Brombacher said. “You start off on a high note and you got to keep it up for the rest of the season.”
Even though she was satisfied with her performance, Brombacher was a little disappointed that she didn’t walk away with a no-hitter. She went into the sixth inning without surrendering a hit before Baylor’s Kayce Walker slapped a single through the right side.
“You don’t realize it when you’re in the game, but yeah, I’m kind of upset,” Brombacher said. “But I’ll take a one-hitter any day, a one-hitter and a win.”
Walton made a few moves of his own as he tweaked the lineup before the game, helping spark the offense after a slow first game.
“I changed catchers … to give someone else an opportunity,” Walton said. “Michelle (Moultrie) getting her first start and coming through in her first at-bat. I’ll keep mixing it, you’ll see that nine-hole spot moving around, moving around, moving around.”
Walton’s lineup maneuvering also allowed him to see his freshman. Moultrie contributed a sacrifice fly RBI in the second, along with some work in left field after starting the game as the designated hitter. Waleszonia followed Moultrie’s sacrifice fly with a solo homer to left, her eighth career home run. Freshman Alicia Sisco recorded a hit and the final run of the game, scoring on Paculba’s double.
But Walton thinks Sunday’s series finale will be more like Friday’s game as he expects Baylor’s freshman ace, Whitney Canion, to take the mound once again after giving Florida’s hitters some trouble in the first game.
“I said it more than anything yesterday,” Walton said. “That shows you how good of a freshman pitcher Whitney Canion is for Baylor. She’s really, really good and did a great job against us. We’re going to have to do a good job making some adjustments because I anticipate seeing her again tomorrow.”