Gators Safe for Now

If the Gator softball team continues to advance at the Women's College World Series, they can point to a clutch double play in the seventh inning against Virginia Tech as the reason why. Florida avoided elimination for at least another game after winning a thriller against the Hookies, 2-0, in extra innings.

With no score in the bottom of the seventh inning, Virginia Tech put their leadoff hitter on third base after Kim Waleszonia misplayed a flyball to centerfield. Head coach Tim Walton then called for Stacey Nelson to intentionally walk the next two batters, forcing a bases loaded situation with no outs and the Gators facing elimination.

But Kelsey Hoffman hit a hard ground ball at Gator third baseman Corrie Brooks who threw home to start a 5-2-3 double play. Nelson got the next hitter Jessica Everhart to ground out to second base to pitch her way out of the jam.

In a tremendous pitcher's duel, the game moved to extra innings, and in the top of the ninth, Florida was able to put together a rally with two outs. After Waleszonia and Aja Paculba struck out, Ali Gardiner singled to center. Francesca Enea followed with another single to center bringing Tiffany DeFelice to the plate. On Thursday, DeFelice was part of a 22-pitch at-bat in the last inning, but lost the battle with a flyball to center. This time it was only an 18-pitch at-bat, but she won the battle when she was hit by a pitch loading the bases.

With the bases full, the lone senior Mary Ratliff came to the plate. Ratliff had struck out in her first three at-bats, but she lined a shot up the middle to score the only two runs of the game. DeFelice was thrown out at the plate trying to score from first.

Nelson came out and shut down the Hookies in the bottom of the ninth preserving the win for Florida. Nelson allowed just two hits and struck out seven, improving to 46-4. Florida won its 68th game of the season, setting a single season NCAA record.

Florida faces UCLA later today in another elimination game.

Virginia Tech pitcher Angela Tincher struck out 19 Gators – one shy of the all-time NCAA record for an extra innings game.

Questions or comments? Contact's Chris Chmielenski

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