Pirates Drop Opener To No. 3 Florida
Feb. 13, 2010
CLEARWATER, Fla. – In the first-ever meeting between the Florida and East Carolina softball programs, the Gators hit three home runs and held on for a 4-3 victory in the season opener for both teams. UF, ranked No. 3 in the USA Today/NFCA preseason poll, was limited to just five hits in the contest but three of them were home runs. The Pirates trailed 3-0 and 4-1, but could not complete the comeback.
Sophomore pitcher Faith Sutton suffered the loss in her first career start for East Carolina after transferring from the University of North Carolina. She allowed five hits and struck out four. Florida freshman Ensley Gammel surrendered five hits and four walks to earn the victory in her first career start. Classmate Erin Schuppert earned the save as she recorded the last four outs of the game.
The Pirates put two runners on in the top of the first inning with walks, but one was caught stealing and the other was left stranded.
Sutton got off to a strong start, striking out two-time all-American Aja Paculba and inducing back-to-back pop outs to send the Gators down in order in the first.
In the bottom of the second inning, Florida tallied the first hit and run of the contest as Kelsey Bruder sent a home run down the right field line for a 1-0 advantage. It was the 18th homer of the junior’s career after she hit 16 in 2009.
The Gators added two more runs in the bottom of the third when Paculba walked with one out and Florida’s career home run leader Francesca Enea brought her total to 42 with a long ball over the center field fence.
East Carolina got a run back in the top of the fourth to make the score 3-1. Senior Marina Gusman-Brown started the rally with a one-out single through the left side of the infield. She advanced to second base on a wild pitch before junior Sissy Jimenez walked to put runners on first and second with one out. Senior Cristen Aona sent the first pitch of her at bat to first base, where Megan Bush fielded the grounder and tried to force Gusman-Brown out at third. Gusman-Brown beat the throw to load the bases. Freshman Kai Clark worked a full count before hitting a grounder to the shortstop, who forced out Aona at second base, allowing Gusman-Brown to score on the play for East Carolina’s first run. Freshman Cicely Lopez struck out to end the threat.
Florida answered right back in the bottom of the fourth with its third home run of the game. Freshman Brittany Schutte led off the frame with a shot to center field to make the score 4-1.
In the top of the fifth, ECU scored twice to cut the deficit down to one run at 4-3. Senior Charina Sumner hit a one-out single and classmate Christina Merrida followed with a bunt for a hit to put runners on first and second. After a strikeout, Gusman-Brown stepped to the plate and doubled off the wall in left field to drive in Sumner and Merrida.
Florida threatened in the bottom of the sixth with two outs as Schutte drew a walk, Corrie Brooks singled to center field and Bush walked. Sutton then struck out freshman pinch hitter Kelsey Horton to end the inning.
The Pirates were retired in order in the top of the seventh as Florida held on for the victory.
East Carolina finishes today's action at 5 p.m. against host USF.