Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
We inform. You decide.
Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Nelson shuts out Arizona, UF to take on Michigan in WCWS second round

OKLAHOMA CITY - Arizona entered the Women's College World Series with the nation's top offense, but the Wildcats were no match for Gators pitcher Stacey Nelson on Thursday.

Nelson (40-3, 0.40 ERA) shut out No. 9 Arizona (46-16) and struck out 12 batters, leading UF to a 3-0 victory at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium. With the victory, the No. 1 Gators (61-3) advanced to the second round of the WCWS, where they will take on No. 5 Michigan tonight at 9 p.m. on ESPN.

"She did a great job of really killing their momentum," UF coach Tim Walton said of Nelson's performance. "After the first inning, she was really tough to hit. You've got to give Stacey all of the credit for sure."

Arizona's vaunted offense led the nation this year in home runs, runs, batting average and slugging percentage. But it was UF, which averaged two fewer runs per game than its opponent, that caught fire early.

The Wildcats threatened first - putting two runners in scoring position with one out in their first at-bat - but the Gators finished what they started at the plate in the bottom half of the inning, as left fielder Francesca Enea drilled a two-run homer - breaking the UF record with her 18th of the season - to right-center field off Arizona pitcher Lindsey Sisk.

Shortstop Megan Bush followed Enea's home run with one of her own in the second to put UF ahead 3-0.

"This was what I really needed," said Bush, who went 1 for 16 in last year's WCWS. "I was missing the first hit last time to get me started, so hopefully this will keep the momentum going for not only me, but the team because when we get a string of hits, it just keeps going."

The Wildcats showed flashes of their offensive potential in the first inning, as the first two batters in their lineup singled in their first at-bats.

But UF's senior ace fielded a groundout, and with two runners in scoring position, Nelson got her first strikeout of the game against Stacie Chambers, who led the nation with 31 home runs on the year, before forcing Sam Banister to pop up and end the inning with no runs on the board.

The rest of the game boiled down to a pitching duel, as Nelson kept the Wildcats off the board for her school-record 21st shutout of the season. Arizona pitcher Sarah Akamine, who came in after Bush's homer, gave up three hits but kept UF off the board and struck out seven batters.

After the game, Arizona coach Mike Candrea and his players praised Nelson's ability to make adjustments to keep their hitters off-balance and off the bases.

"I think a big part of it after the first few innings was just settling down," Nelson said. "I was a little wild in the beginning - maybe effectively wild, I don't know - but just settling down, seeing their adjustments, making my own whether they were deep in the box or on the plate, and just throwing my pitches according to where they were standing."

Enjoy what you're reading? Get content from The Alligator delivered to your inbox
Support your local paper
Donate Today
The Independent Florida Alligator has been independent of the university since 1971, your donation today could help #SaveStudentNewsrooms. Please consider giving today.

Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2024 The Independent Florida Alligator and Campus Communications, Inc.