Softball Falls Short

An NCAA record setting 70 wins for the Florida softball team this season, but the Gators fell just short of their ultimate goal on Sunday night. Florida lost a heartbreaking 1-0 decision to Texas A&M having their season come to an end just one game shy of the Women's College World Series finals.

Both pitchers, Stacey Nelson for the Gators and Megan Gibson for Texas A&M, were on top of their games, holding the other team scoreless through eight innings. The Aggies were finally able to break through with a clutch two-out triple in the top half of the ninth to eliminate the Gators and advance to the championship series where they'll face Arizona State.

Despite Nelson holding the Aggies scoreless through 8.2 innings, they did apply the pressure. In the top of the first, A&M had runners on the corners with two outs, but Nelson got got the Aggies No. 5 hitter Holly Ridley to ground out to second.

Again, in the second inning the two first A&M batters reached safely, but Nelson retired the next three to work out of the jam. Nelson settled down after the second and retired the next 12 batters.

Texas A&M went quietly until the seventh inning when they put a runner in scoring position with only one out. Nelson then walked Macie Morrow, but was able to get consecutive infield ground outs to keep the Aggies from scoring.

While Nelson was pitching well, Gibson was pitching just as well for the Aggies. Gibson allowed just one baserunner in the first five innings. Ali Gardiner, who was on Gibson all night, singled in the second.

The Gators put together their first rally in the bottom of the sixth when Kristina Hilberth singled to left followed by a base hit by Kim Waleszonia. Aja Paculba then singled, loading the bases with one out and the heart of the Gator lineup coming to the plate. But Francesca Enea hit a hard ground ball to third and Texas A&M was able to get the force out at the plate. Gardiner then lined out to left to end the threat.

Both teams went quietly in the eighth and it appeared that the Aggies would go quietly in the ninth as well. Nelson got the first two batters to ground out before giving up a two-out single to Morrow. The No. 9 hitter Kelsey Spittler then ripped a triple down the first baseline, driving in the only run of the game.

The Gators started the bottom of the ninth with back-to-back singles from Gardiner and Corrie Brooks, bringing up the lone senior Mary Ratliff with the tying run in scoring position. But Ratliff grounded into a 4-3 double play, and even though the tying run was 90-feet away, they were down to their final out. Gibson got Megan Bush to pop out to first to end Florida's season.

The Gators finish with an NCAA record 70 wins against five loses. Even though they fell just 90-feet short of the SEC's first championship series appearance, Florida's season was still filled with many firsts.

Questions or comments? Contact's Chris Chmielenski

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