Softball falls to Florida, 3-0, in NCAA Gainesville Regional finals
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The 19th-ranked Florida Softball team used three ninth-inning doubles and a hit-by-pitch to plate three runs in the final inning and down No. 18 Texas, 3-2, Sunday afternoon in the finals of the NCAA Gainesville Regional.
The season-ending loss dropped the Longhorns to 35-20 on the year, while the Gators improved to 49-20 and advance to the NCAA Super Regional.
Texas' freshman starter Erin Tresselt held Florida scoreless, while allowing two hits and striking out five in 5.1 innings of work. Junior righthander Meagan Denny (21-16) took over in the sixth, tossing the final 3.2 innings, allowing three runs on four hits, striking out seven and suffering the loss for the Longhorns. Gators' sophomore righthander Stacey Nelson (33-13) earned the victory for UF, throwing a complete game three-hit shutout. Nelson allowed just four baserunners, while fanning eight and walking one.
After eight full innings of scoreless play, Florida shortstop Lauren Roussell was hit by a pitch to start the Gators ninth-inning rally. Senior third baseman Melissa Zick brought Roussell home when she drilled an RBI double off the left centerfield wall to give UF a 1-0 advantage. First baseman Ali Gardner followed with an RBI double of her own, scoring Zick to push the lead to two.
Denny retired the next two batters on strikes before senior centerfielder Lacy Howard did the final damage when she laced a double to left centerfield, allowing Gardiner to score from second.
Horns' sophomore second baseman Shannon Thomas highlighted the Texas offense on the day, registering two of the Longhorns' three hits. Senior Megan Willis tallied UT's only other hit and threw out one runner from her catcher position.
Texas graduates two players -- first baseman Jacqueline Williams and Willis -- from its 2007 squad, and will return 14 letterwinners in 2008. This year's team reached the NCAA Regional finals for the third consecutive season.