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Friday February 9, 2007Softball Opens 2007 Season with Two Wins in Arizona

Tempe, AZ

The Florida softball team opened the 2007 season the right way Friday afternoon at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz. The Gators used timely hitting and strong pitching to earn a 4-0 win over Northwestern State and a 2-1 win over Oregon.

 

The Florida bats got hot and the Gators took advantage of Northwestern State miscues to open the scoring in the bottom of the fourth. Freshman Corrie Brooks (Christmas, Fla.) led off the inning with a solid base hit up the middle. Sophomore Ashley Harris (Royal Palm Beach, Fla.) came into pinch run and promptly stole second. After a ground out by sophomore Ali Gardiner (Waccabuc, N.Y.), Harris headed to steal third, she was safe and the throw from the Northwestern State catcher went into the outfield, allowing Harris to score easily for the 1-0 lead. With one out, sophomore Savana Kelly (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) drew a walk. Sophomore Kim Waleszonia (Fontana, Calif.) started a two-out rally by beating out an infield base hit to the short stop. Kelly moved to second and advanced onto third on the overthrow by the Demon short stop. Senior Lauren Roussell (Cerritos, Calif.) knocked a double deep into right center to score both Kelly and Waleszonia for the 3-0 Gator lead.

 

Senior Lacy Howard (League City, Texas) drew a leadoff walk in the bottom of the fifth. She advanced to second on a well executed sacrifice bunt by Brooks. Howard moved to third on a Gardiner ground out. Junior Mary Ratliff (Mt. Sterling, Ky.) pinch hit for Kelly and drove a single up the middle to score Howard for the 4-0 Gator lead.

 

Northwestern State made things interesting in the seventh as they loaded the bases with only one out. The Gator defense held strong to preserve the shutout in the season opener.

 

Florida had base runners in every inning. Waleszonia got the Gators 2007 season started right as she led off the Gator half of the first with a base hit through the right side.

 

With one out in the second, Brooks earned her first collegiate hit with an infield blooper in the gap between second and short. Gardiner followed driving a ball through the right side for her first hit in the Orange and Blue.

 

In the third, senior Melissa Zick (Tampa, Fla.) drew a two-out walk and stole second. Freshman Francesca Enea (Woodland Hills, Calif.) followed with another walk.

 

Roussell walked with one out in the sixth. She then stole second. Enea also drew a walk and Roussell stole third on the fourth ball to her.

 

Brooks paced the Gators with her 2-for-2 performance at the plate. She also had a sacrifice. Waleszonia was 2-for-4 at the plate. Roussell finished the game 1-for-3 with a walk, two RBI and the Gators’ only extra base hit of the game. Florida stole five bases in the game, two each by Roussell and Harris and one by Zick.

 

Senior Stacey Stevens (Gainesville, Fla.) earned the 12th shutout of her career in the win. She struck out five Demon batters, while giving up four hits and two walks. Amanda Glenn took the loss for Northwestern State. Michelle Castellano came in the game in relief of Glenn in the fifth inning and recorded the only strikeout against the Gators.

 

The Gators took care of business earlier in the game against Oregon. Florida took the early lead and held on for the 2-1 win.

 

Enea led off the bottom of the second with a double that hugged the left field line. Two outs later, Gardiner earned her first RBI of the season with a single to center to score Enea and give Florida the 1-0 lead.

 

Waleszonia started the Gators’ half of the fourth with a walk. She stole second and advanced to third on a Zick ground out. Enea came up big again with a RBI base hit through the left side to put Florida ahead 2-0.

 

Oregon scored their run in the top of the sixth. Suzie Barnes led off with a base hit. She stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by Florida catcher Enea. Barnes came around to score the unearned run on a sacrifice fly by Jennifer Salling.

 

Enea led the offense against Oregon, going 2-for-3 with a double, a run scored and a RBI. Ratliff finished the game 2-for-2 with a double. Gardiner had clutch hits throughout the day and finished game two 1-for-2 with a RBI.

 

Florida sophomore pitcher Stacey Nelson (Los Alamitos, Calif.) struck out a career-high 10 batters in the win. It marked the first time an individual Gator pitcher had struck out 10 or more batters in a game since Stevens struck out 11 against Ole Miss on March 26, 2005. Alicia Cook pitched the complete game for Oregon in the loss.

 

Florida continues play in the Kajikawa Classic on Saturday as they take on No. 1 Arizona at 12:30 p.m. ET and Wisconsin at 3 p.m. ET. Both games will be broadcast live on GatorZone.com via yahoo.com.

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