Nelson Dominates Again for Gator Softball

Stacey Nelson threw another shutout as the Florida Gators' softball team advanced undefeated in the Women's College World Series. Shortstop Megan Bush hit her second home run in as many games for the Gators for the only run of the contest and the only run necessary to keep them in the winner's bracket. The story of the game was the pitching and Nelson was dominant in the 1-0 win.

Stacey Nelson has allowed one earned run in the Gators (62-3) entire run through the NCAA Tournament giving up one run in the first game and now scoreless through 33 innings of pitching. Friday night she was masterful facing only three Michigan (46-12) batters in six of the seven innings in the game.

The fourth inning was a little shaky for Nelson who gave up a hit to Michigan shortstop Bree Evans to lead off the inning who swiped a well placed infield single to Gator shortstop Megan Bush, catching Bush cheating towards third. Nelson tried to force Evans out at second but was late with the throw when right fielder Angela Findlay hit a slow bouncer back to Nelson. With no outs and runners on first and second, both advanced a base when left fielder Amanda Chidester laid down a sacrifice bunt.

With one out and runners on second and third, Nelson had few of her best moments of the tournament when she struck out catcher Roya St. Clair and then third baseman Maggie Viefhaus to end the inning and the only base runners and threats Michigan would have all game.

Michigan countered with their All-American pitchers who both pitched great games. Jordan Taylor started the game and pitched 4.1 innings of shutout ball. Taylor struck out five Gators and stranded four others scattering three hits.

The Gators looked to be in good position to score in the third when catcher Kristina Hilberth led off the inning with a single. She advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt from Kim Waleszonia. The offensive hero of the Super Regional series with Cal, Aja Paculba, smacked a long fly ball out to left field that was hit too high and not far enough for out two. Tiffany DeFelice then walked, putting runners on first and second. Left fielder Francesca Enea would end the inning with a sharply hit ball to third base that was fielded well and Hilberth was forced out at third.

Right fielder Kelsey Bruder led off the fourth inning with a double, but was stranded when the next three batters were retired one way or another.

Michigan's Taylor got into trouble in the fifth inning giving up a one out single to Waleszonia followed by a walk issued to Paculba. Michigan then replaced Taylor with their ace, Nikki Nemitz. Nemitz forced a ground out to DeFelice, but both runners advanced. She then intentionally walked Enea, the Gators designated long ball hitter. With bases loaded and two outs, Nemitz was able to strike out Bruder.

The Gators stranded seven runners in the game compared to Michigan's two. They also out-hit the Wolverines 5-2 in the game and had four walks compared to Michigan who didn't get a walk all game. The Gators had trouble bringing those base runners home until Bush planted a bomb over the left center field wall. It was all the scoring the Gators needed and all they would get in the game.

Bush also hit a home run in the Gators win against Arizona on Thursday. Florida has needed the long ball in the last four games deriving seven of their eight runs in the four games from shots over the outfield fence. Bush and Paculba have accounted for four of the home runs in the four games.

The Gators will now get to watch on Saturday as Georgia (44-11) and Missouri (50-11) square off at noon eastern time. The loser of that game will go home and the winner will advance to play Michigan at 7 p.m. Saturday evening. The loser of that matchup will go home and the winner will then play Florida.

The Gators next game will be at 3 p.m. Sunday and they will have to lose twice to go home. One more win by the Gators and they will play in the championship round in a best of three matchup, starting Monday night and every night until someone wins two games.

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