GAINESVILLE — Stacey Nelson pitched her 15th shutout of the season to lead Florida, ranked No. 1 in the coaches poll, to a 4-0 victory over UCF in Saturday's NCAA softball regional.
The Gators (64-2) play UCF again today at 1 p.m. for the right to advance to the NCAA Super Regions. The Knights (48-19) eliminated Georgia Tech 7-1 and must beat UF twice to advance.
Sophomore Corrie Brooks' third-inning home run gave the Gators a 1-0 lead. Then Francesca Enea, the leftfielder who hit a grand slam Friday, had a two-run single in the sixth to help the Gators seal the win.
"It was a great game with a great pitching matchup between two all-region pitchers," Florida coach Tim Walton said. "When I looked at the regional, I realized how tough it was and UCF was the reason why. We knew how good they were. … The name of the game in postseason is you've got to have good pitching and clutch runs, and we got that."
USF ended its season with a 9-2 loss to Georgia Tech. The Bulls (44-20) fell behind 4-0, hurt by two errors in the second. Trailing 4-2, USF committed three more errors in Georgia Tech's five-run fourth.
"This was a tough loss to a tough season," USF coach Ken Eriksen said. "We've learned a lot over the last year, and we're ready to build upon it."
Baseball: UT in final
Top seed and host Tampa overcame a five-run fifth inning by Catawba College to win 12-7 and reach today's final in the Division II South Region tournament. Third baseman Nolan Brannon had two homers and four RBIs for the Spartans (41-9), the two-time defending national champions. Their opponent for the final, which starts at 1 p.m. with a second game to follow if necessary, was not set at press time.
USF CAPS SWEEP: The Bulls erased an 8-0 deficit to beat visiting Notre Dame, completing its first sweep of a Big East series under second-year coach Ledo Prado. The Bulls (29-25) are the sixth seed for the Big East tournament, which starts Tuesday at Clearwater's Bright House Field, and will again face Notre Dame, the No. 3 seed, in the opener. St. John's owns the top seed.
FLORIDA IN SEC TOURNEY: The Gators (33-20, 16-13) clinched a spot in the SEC tournament, topping visiting Vanderbilt 5-4 late Friday. The Gators, who beat the Commodores 13-12 Saturday, face Vanderbilt again to start the league tournament at 2 p.m. Wednesday in Hoover, Ala.
Florida reached the NCAA semifinals, defeating defending champion Georgia Tech 4-2 in Tulsa, Okla. The Gators (24-2) face UCLA at 1 p.m. Monday. Florida won the doubles point and Whitney Benik, Marrit Boonstra and Anastasia Revzina took singles matches for UF, which is in the semifinals for the 19th time in 22 years.
GOLF: The UF men made the NCAA Tournament by finishing tied for fourth at the Central Region in Columbus, Ohio. Billy Horschel tied for the lowest round of the day at 1-under 70 for the Gators (300—894). The tournament is May 28-31 in West Lafayette, Ind.
FOOTBALL: A Virginia Tech recruit voted Virginia's top high school player faces felony drug charges. Peter Rose, 18, was charged along with six other students after what police called an undercover operation.
Times wires contributed to this report. Antonya English can be reached at [email protected]