OKLAHOMA CITY – Virginia Tech was the first team eliminated from the 2008 Women’s College World Series as the Hokies fell to Florida by a score of 2-0 in nine innings on Saturday afternoon.
Florida (68-4) advances to play UCLA at 6 pm CDT on Saturday. Virginia Tech concludes its season with a 49-19 record.
The fireworks started early, as the Gators got a pair of runners in scoring position to lead off the top of the first inning. Kim Waleszonia singled from the leadoff spot before Aja Paculba’s bunt single resulted in an additional base for both players when Virginia Tech third baseman Charisse Mariconda slid on an over-watered patch of the infield while fielding the bunt. The Hokies Angela Tincher was able to work out of the jam, striking out the side to end the inning and the threat.
Hits were hard to come by after that opening half-inning. Virginia Tech’s Whitney Davis got the first hit for the Hokies on a third-inning single, but was erased on a double play, allowing Nelson to face the minimum through five and two-third innings.
The Gators got their next hit in the sixth inning when Paculba singled but was caught stealing to end the inning. Two hits in the seventh never yielded a runner in scoring position, sending the scoreless game to the bottom of the seventh inning.
Erin Ota of Virginia Tech led off the bottom of the seventh inning with a three-base error, forcing Virginia Tech to intentionally walk Mariconda and Misty Hall to lead the bases and set up the force play. This time, it was Florida’s Stacey Nelson who pitched out of the jam. Nelson got Kelsey Hoffman to ground into a double play and Jessica Everhart grounded out to end the inning and the threat.
The game went to the ninth inning where Florida put together a two-out rally in the top half of the frame. Ali Gardiner and Francesca Enea posted consecutive two-out singles. The bases were loaded when Tiffany DeFelice was hit by a pitch, but Mary Ratliff connected on a two-run double to left center.
That was enough for the Gators to advance. Nelson earned the win for the Gators, improving to 46-4 on the season. She struck out seven, walked three and allowed just two hits.
Virginia Tech’s Angela Tincher struck out an eye-popping 19 batters without issuing a walk. She allowed two runs on eight hits over nine innings and finishes the year with a 38-10 record.
“What a great game between two outstanding teams,” said Florida head coach Tim Walton. “Even more impressive, two outstanding pitchers. A lot of emotion goes into that kind of game.”