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GAINESVILLE, Fla. - The #4 seed University of Florida softball team (51-10) was lifted by a pair of two-run homers by Brittany Schutte over #13 seed Oregon (42-15) in Friday's NCAA Super Regional opener at Pressly Stadium.
In front of a national ESPN-U/ESPN Classic TV audience, the two teams were delayed by multiple half-hour delays before the game due to lightning sightings within a six-mile radius of the UF campus.
Nearly two hours after their original start time, the two teams finally began their fifth meeting in series history. Florida struck early for three runs in the first inning, then added two in the third, one in the fourth, and three more in the fifth.
The eight-run differential ended the game after five innings and was only the second of the year where the Ducks had lost a regulation-shortened contest via the NCAA run rule - the other coming to then-No. 1 Alabama, 10-0, in early March in Orlando.
UO scored its lone run in the second inning after senior Monique Fuiava led off with a double to left center field off starter Stephanie Brombacher (19-2). The Lynwood, Calif., native came around on an RBI single by sophomore Samantha Pappas three at-bats later.
Pappas (2-for-2) ultimately led UO in hits with her 10th multi-hit game of the season - third-most on the team behind Courtney Ceo (20) and Fuiava (12).
Fuiava's double moved her up the Oregon all-time career and season lists to second and fourth, respectively, while she also joined the season extra-base hits category (ninth-tie, 22).
Down 6-1 in the fifth, UO threatened to score again when it put a pair of batters on with one out on Pappas' second single of the day and a hit by pitch by junior Christie Nieto. However, a fielder's choice ground-out to second base and strikeout ended the inning.For the Ducks, All-Pac-10 First Team pick and sophomore Jessica Moore (24-10) pitched the first three innings, struck out two, walked one, allowed four hits, and all five of her runs allowed were earned.
The Sutter, Calif., native made her 40th appearance of the season to move into a tie for 10th all-time for UO in a season. Unfortunately it was only her second start since April that she didn't pitch at least five innings.
On Friday, Florida lived up to its billing as one of the nation's top line-ups after it led the NCAA charts this week in homers (1.78 p/g) and slugging (.589) and ranked second in scoring (7.42 rpg) and 10th in hitting (.326).
In the first inning, lead-off hitter Michelle Moultrie lined a single to right field and stole second base, then scored on a one-out double by SEC Player of the Year Kelsey Bruder. Fellow SEC First-Teamer Schutte followed with a two-run homer to right field - her 18th of the campaign.
In the third, Schutte lined another round-tripper over the fence, this time a shot inside the left field foul pole, and scored Bruder who had walked the at-bat before.
Junior Samantha Skillingstad came in to pitch in the top of the fourth inning. In her inning of work, the Spokane, Wash., native struck out none, walked two, yielded one hit, and three of her four runs allowed were earned.
In the fourth inning, she hit the opening batter Cheyenne Coyle, and after she advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt, she came around on a pair of wild pitches during a short but heavy mid-afternoon downpour.
Skillingstad came back out to start the fifth, and after the first hitter, Aja Paculba reached on an error by the shortstop, she advanced to third on Bruder's second double of the day. Schutte followed with a 3-2 walk to load the bases that forced Duck head coach Mike White to bring in Mikayla Endicott.
The junior from Roseburg, Ore., got Bush to hit a grounder to shortstop, but another error allowed two runs to score. After a walk to Coyle, Tiffany DeFelice ended the game with a single that scored the final run.On the opposing mound, Florida senior starter Stephanie Brombacher (19-2) pitched the first three innings, struck out three, walked none, allowed two hits, and her run allowed was earned.
Freshman Hannah Rogers pitched the final two innings, struck out three, walked none, gave up one hit, and no runs.
At the plate for the Gators, Schutte posted her third two-homer game of the season, while Bruder also had a pair of doubles and a walk in her three at-bats. Three other Florida batters ended with one hit.
Friday's outcome gave Florida a 3-2 edge in the all-time series dating back to 2000.
The SEC East Division champions advanced to its fifth straight Super Regional after it went 2-1 vs. returning national champion UCLA twice and also beat Bethune Cookman once in last weekend's Gainesville Regional.
The Ducks earned their second-ever Super Regional trip (in as many years) after it went 3-0 in the University Park Regional last week with 3-1 wins over Albany and Penn State and a 2-0 shutout of Fordham.
Looking ahead, the two teams meet for the second game of the series, Saturday, March 28 at 9 a.m. PT. If Oregon wins, a deciding third game will follow a half hour afterwards, and both games will be televised by ESPN HD and online at www.ESPN3.com.
#3 Florida 9, #11 OREGON 1 (May 27, 2011 at Gainesville, Fla.)
#11 OREGON....... 010 00 - 1 3 2 (42-15)
#3 Florida....... 302 13 - 9 6 0 (51-10)
Pitchers: OREGON - Moore, Jessica; Skillingstad, Sam(4); Endicott, Mikayla(5) and Peterson, Alexa. Florida - Brombacher; Rogers(4) and DeFelice. Win-Brombacher(19-2) Loss-Moore, Jessica(24-10) T-2:07 A-1089. HR UF - Schutte 2. Weather: 87 degrees, partly cloudy. Skillingstad faced 3 batters in the 5th. Endicott, M faced 3 batters in the 5th.
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