Gator Softball Loses a Heartbreaker

Despite overcoming a 4-0 deficit in the fourth inning to go up, 5-4, the Gator softball team lost a heartbreaker to No. 1 seed Arizona State, 6-5, on a walk-off single in the bottom of the seventh inning Friday in the Women's College World Series in front of a crowd of 8,627.

In a game that lasted three hours and eight minutes, junior Michelle Moultrie went 3-for-4 for the Orange and Blue (53-11) with two RBI and one run, smashing one of two two-run homers that helped Florida put up five runs in the in the fourth stanza.

Senior Tiffany DeFelice belted a one-out two-run bomb in the top of the fourth to put the Gators on the board and Moultrie hit just her fourth homer this season, the second in as many days, to knot the contest at four-all before sophomore Brittany Schutte sent a RBI double to left center to take the Gators ahead, 5-4, to close out the fourth inning scoring. ASU countered with an Annie Lockwood bomb to right center to tie the game at five-all before Lockwood would propel the Sun Devils over the Gators in the seventh with the game-winning walk-off RBI single.

With the double elimination format, Florida will play the winner of the Oklahoma State vs. Cal game Saturday at 7 p.m. (ET) at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium. The Golden Bears and Cowboys take to the field at noon (ET).

Gator senior first baseman Megan Bush drew a career-high three walks Friday, going 1-for-1 at the plate, while Schutte and senior Aja Paculba each connected for hits to contribute to UF's eight total against ASU.

Senior righty Stephanie Brombacher got the start for the Orange and Blue, but gave up three runs on six hits in one inning of work to bring on freshman Hannah Rogers to close out the game. Rogers (34-7) worked the final 5.2, giving up three runs on five hits, while walking eight and giving up the game-winning run to tally the loss, just her seventh of the season.

Arizona State struck first in the bottom of the first frame, stringing together a four-hit effort, while plating one run on a RBI single from Lockwood. Brombacher held steady, getting out of a bases loaded jam, allowing just the one Sun Devil run. After holding UF scoreless through the second despite a walk and a hit-by-pitch, ASU returned to put up a two-run second-inning effort to take a 3-0 lead to the third inning.

Following an Ensley Gammel strikeout to lead off the third, Moultrie connected for a base hit and Paculba popped up to second base for the first out of the inning. Florida encountered a potential scoring opportunity when senior Kelsey Bruder drew a walk to put runners on first and second, bringing up cleanup hitter Schutte, who smashed a near homer to left field, but Talor Haro snagged the ball at the warning track to retire the side.

A Sam Urfer shot to left field gave ASU the 4-0 advantage in the bottom of the third frame, but Rogers went to work, forcing a ground out, giving up just one hit and following with another groundout and a strikeout to send the Sun Devils back to the dugout.

DeFelice provided the spark the Gators needed in the fourth after Bush battled for her second walk of the game to kick off the frame for the Orange and Blue, bringing on pinch runner junior Ashley Snedeker. Freshman Cheyenne Coyle went down swinging, but DeFelice battled next to knock her seventh homer, a two-run round-tripper, to get the Gators on the board and cut the ASU lead in half, 4-2. After a freshman Kasey Fagan strikeout, Gammel turned the lineup over with a single up the middle to set up Moultrie's fourth homer of the season that knotted the game at 4-4. Florida kept the ball rolling with a Paculba two-out base hit back to the pitcher before Bruder drew a walk. Schutte drove in Florida's fifth and final run of the game on a double to left center, but Bruder was caught trying to score on an 8-6-2 relay for the final out of the inning.

ASU's Lockwood connected for a two-out solo shot to right center to bring the game to five-all heading to the fifth, where the Gators left two on following two walks, including Bush's third and DeFelice's only base on balls of the game. The Gators held onto steady defense behind Rogers in Arizona State's at-bat, as Rogers forced three up, three down, including one K.

Moultrie led off the sixth for the Gators with a leadoff double, but UF couldn't manufacture any runs, bringing up the sixth for ASU, where Rogers got out of a bases loaded situation following three walks. Bush tried to get the momentum going for the Gators in the seventh with a single to right center, later advancing to second on a wild pitch, but three consecutive outs left her stranded.

Arizona State used two hits, including Lockwood's game-winning RBI single, in the seventh to earn the 6-5 victory over the Gators. The Sun Devils were led by freshman Dallas Escobedo in the circle, who worked a complete game, fanning 12 Gator batters and gave up Florida's five runs and eight hits, while walking six in the contest.

Florida is 5-3 all-time against Cal, with its last outing in the 2009 NCAA Gainesville Super Regional where the Gators swept the Golden Bears, 2-0 and 2-1, to make it to their second consecutive WCWS. Florida is 1-3 on neutral ground in the history of the series. It's been 15 years since a Gator squad met up with an Oklahoma State Cowgirls team. In the last outing, UF took a 2-1 victory from OSU in a Fullerton, Calif., tournament under the watch of UF's first All-American Chelsey Sakizzie.

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