Nelson Shuts Down Bruins

The Gator softball team knew that if they were going to have a chance at winning the Women's College World Series in their first ever appearance, they were going to have to beat the more traditional and storied programs from out West. They got past one on Saturday night when the Gators shut down UCLA, 2-0, to play another day.

The UCLA Bruins are rich in softball tradition with 23 WCWS appearances and a record 10 titles to their credit. But after beating the National Player of the Year in Virginia Tech pitcher Angela Tincher earlier in the day, Florida was confident heading into their game against the Bruins.

UF's win against UCLA pits them against Texas A&M on Sunday for the right to play in the championship series. The Gators will have to beat the Aggies twice, though, to advance to the best-of-three series that begins on Monday.

Against the Bruins, it was all about the Gators great pitcher Stacey Nelson. Nelson was magnificent shutting down the Bruins and holding them scoreless despite UCLA putting baserunners on the paths. The Bruins had runners on in five of seven innings, but Nelson was able to work out of it every time.

The toughest jam may have been in the first. UCLA led off the game with a single, followed by another single after a fielder's choice. After a passed ball, the Bruins had second and third with only one out. But Nelson got designated player Stacey Langenfield to ground out sharply to third and then struck out Palm Harbor-native Gionna DiSalvatore to keep the Bruins off the board.

The Gators scored early after some fielding mishaps in the bottom of the first. Centerfielder Kim Waleszonia walked to lead off the inning and then stole second. With one out, Ali Gardiner laid down a bunt and UCLA pitcher Anjelica Selden threw erroneously to first allowing Waleszonia to score from second.

Even though Nelson allowed baserunners, she didn't allow a Bruin to advance past second base. After pitching nine innings in the extra innings win against Virginia Tech, Nelson allowed five hits, one walk and struck out five for the win.

Aside from the first inning error, Selden was equally as impressive. She held the Gators hitless until the fourth inning when Tiffany DeFelice had a two-out single to left. But the Gators were able to tack on an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth. With two outs, Gardiner singled to center and then was lifted for pinch runner Le-Net Franklin who stole second. Francesca Enea followed with a single, knocking in Franklin for the 2-0 lead.

Selden struck out nine Gators and allowed just three hits while walking two.

Texas A&M has won two games, defeating Virginia Tech on Thursday and Louisiana-Lafayette on Friday. Sunday's first pitch is 12 p.m. with the second game starting at 6 p.m. should Florida win the first.

Florida improves to an NCAA record 69-4 with the win.

Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Chris Chmielenski


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