Gators' Walk-Off Homerun Bites Stanford, 4-3
March 2, 2008
Fullerton, Calif. - In a tight contest between two of the nation's last one-loss teams, the No. 8/10 Stanford softball team was handed a heart-breaking loss by No. 5/7 Florida. Gator senior Mary Ratliff belted a walk-off three-run homerun in the bottom of the seventh, lifting Florida to a 4-3 win. The Cardinal falls to 20-2 with the loss, while the Gators improve to 24-1.
Stanford pitcher Missy Penna (13-2) gave up five hits in seven innings of work, and walked just one batter, while Florida hurler Stacey Nelson (14-1) gave up five hits and five walks.
Offensively, Anna Beardman led the Cardinal with two hits on three tries. Sophomore catcher Rosey Neill recorded the Cardinal's only extra-base hit in the third inning, cracking her fifth double of the year to match her 2007 total less than a month into the season. Designated player Tiffany DeFelice went 2-for-3 for Florida, and Ratliff's long ball gave her a game-high three RBI.
The Gators were the first to strike, scoring a run on their first offensive chance. All-American center fielder Kim Waleszonia singled to right field to put the first runner of the game on, and moved into scoring position on an ensuing ground out. With two outs, clean-up hitter DeFelice slammed an RBI double to the gap in left center, allowing Waleszonia to score easily from second.
Stanford finally got its offense going in the sixth inning, scoring three runs on three hits and three walks. Anna Beardman chopped an infield single over the head of Nelson and was replaced at first on a fielder's choice by Alissa Haber. Tricia Aggabao drew the first of three walks in the inning, and Coon dropped a short single into left field to load the bases. Nelson then walked two runs in to put Stanford in front, 2-1, and a single by Shannon Koplitz scored another one to make it 3-1. The Gator defense pulled together, however, threw one runner out at the plate and retired another to leave the Cardinal with bases loaded.
Penna and Stanford held the Gators off in the sixth, with Aggabao reaching over the fence to rob Francesca Enea of a homerun to end the inning.
In the seventh, with the Cardinal three outs away from the win, Ratliff delivered her crushing blow. A single and a walk put two runners aboard, and the lone senior on the Gator squad blasted her sixth homerun of the year over the left center field wall to end the game.
Stanford returns to the Farm on Tuesday to begin a 16-game home stand. The Cardinal will meet the Eagles of Boston College on Tuesday at 2 p.m. before hosting the Stanford Classic, Thursday through Sunday, at Smith Family Stadium.