Softball battles but falls to No. 2 Florida, 11-0 (6)
The JU softball team fought toe-to-toe with No. 2 Florida through five innings, but the Gators calmly plated eight runs in the sixth en route to a 11-0 win on Wednesday night in front of a school record 1,387 fans at the JU Softball Complex.

The Dolphins (1-5) limited the Gators (3-1) to a run over the first 4.2 innings, but Aja Paculba had a two out, two-run home run in the fifth and Florida scored eight runs on six hits in the sixth to pull away with the win.

Florida starter Stephanie Brombacher (2-0) earned the win in the circle scattering three hits and striking out eight in seven scoreless innings. Paculba finished the night a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate with three RBI and two runs scored, while Francesa Enea drove in two runs.

Freshman Sarah Sigrest (1-3) was tagged with the loss after allowing five runs, four earned, on five hits and three strikeouts in four innings of work. Senior Alexis Novak along with juniors Shannon Monahan and Ashley Mora each had a hit for JU.

“We hung with them until the fifth, but they pulled away from us,” said JU head coach Amanda Lehotak. “I’m proud of the way our team completed tonight. Florida proved why they a top-five team and that has a lot to do with its class-act coaching staff.

“Things for us are coming together for us slowly, but surely. We just need to learn how to finish a game and I think it’s coming soon with this bunch.”

After stranding two Florida runners in the first inning, Monahan opened JU’s home half with a single to left field. Monahan moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by sophomore outfielder Kayla Ouellet, but Brombacher retired the next two batters to keep it scoreless.

The Dolphins had a lead-off single in the second inning from Mora. Brombacher once again guided the Gators through inning with a fielder’s choice groundout in the next at bat before fanning freshman Kayla Shavers and junior Amber Moseley to end any potential offensive spark.

In the third inning, Florida’s Kim Waleszonia broke a streak of six batters retired by Sigrest with a two-out bunt single to third base. Paculba followed with a ground ball deep in the hole at second base. Sophomore Katie Kelly stopped the grounder, but couldn’t get her balance to get Waleszonia out at second base. Ali Gardner drove home Walezonia in the next at bat with a single up the middle to give the Gators a 1-0 advantage.

Paculba flustered the Dolphins again at the plate in the fourth inning with a two-run homer to left field off junior Ashley Iveson.

The Gators put the game out of reach with an eight-run sixth inning to take an 11-0 lead. Florida sent up 12 batters in the inning with Kelsey Bruder, Paculba and Enea all recording run-scoring hits.

Brombacher retired five of the final seven JU hitters to secure the win for the Gators.

The Dolphins look to bounce back starting Friday, when they host Presbyterian and Iowa State in a tournament at the JU Softball Complex. The Dolphins will take on the Bluse Hose at 4 p.m. before finishing with the undefeated Cyclones at 6 p.m. Both games will be steamed live online though A-Sun.TV.