The Central Connecticut softball team (9-5) took on #1 ranked Florida on Tuesday in Gainesville, FL, falling by a score of 8-2 in seven innings. The Gators are now 29-2 overall on the season.
Junior Laura Messina pitched her seventh complete game of the season, posting seven strikeouts, walking three and allowing 10 hits. With the loss, Messina's record drops to 8-3.
After two and a half scoreless innings, the Gators put the first run on the board on an RBI triple from Kelsey Stewart with just one out in the bottom of the third. Messina struck out the final batter of the inning, stranding Stewart on third to send CCSU back to the plate.
Florida broke the game open in the bottom of the fourth with a two-out rally. Taylore Fuller hit a three-run homer to put CCSU down 4-0. A Central infield error caused Florida to cross two more runs before the inning's end, putting Florida up 6-0 headed into the top of the fifth.
Central threatened in the top of the fifth. Freshman Alexis Debrosse walked with just one out and was followed by sophomore Kenya McVey, who smacked a single to make it two on base. Back-to-back strikeouts ended the inning, however, rendering CCSU still scoreless after four and a half.
Florida opened the bottom of the fifth with a solo home run to increase their lead to seven.
In the top of the sixth, the Blue Devils narrowed the defecit to five, posting the first, and only, runs of the game for CCSU. Junior Kat Malcolm smacked a single up the middle and advanced to second on a single to left center by sophomore Evie Rentzel.
Senior Tessa Brown was hit by a pitch to load the bases for CCSU with just one out before sophomore Eileen Purcell launched a two-run double over the Gators' center fielder, scoring Malcolm and Rentzel. Two strikeouts followed to end the half inning.
Florida responded in the bottom of the sixth with a lead-off triple and a single to add one to the board, increasing the Gator lead to six, 8-2.
CCSU went three up, three down in the top of the seventh to complete the game.
Central posted four hits and left five on base on the day, compared to 10 hits and nine left for the Gators.
The Blue Devil offense was led by Purcell, who drove in both of CCSU's runs on a double to deep center. CCSU's three other hits were collected by Malcolm, Rentzel and sophomore Kenya McVey.
Central returns to action tomorrow, Wednesday, March 19, at the University of South Florida. First pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m.