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Friday February 23, 2007Softball Splits in Day One of Leadoff Classic

Columbus, GA

The No. 19 Florida Softball team (13-4) split games in the first day of the NFCA Leadoff Classic in Columbus, Ga. Florida earned its third consecutive shutout with a 1-0 win over No. 24/25 Massachusetts, but suffered its biggest loss of the season, 5-0, to DePaul.


Sophomore Ali Gardiner (Waccabuc, N.Y.) would score the only run the Gators would need against Massachusetts as she belted a home run to center with one out in the second.


Heads up play by sophomore Kristina Hilberth (Dunedin, Fla.) gave the Gators a chance to score in the opening frame. Hilberth struck out swinging on a high pitch, but the UMass catcher was not able to handle the pitch, allowing Hilberth to reach third. Hilberth beat out the throw to first, but it went into right field, allowing her to advance all the way to third with only one out in the inning. The next two Gator batters were not able to push her across the plate.


The Minutewomen also pushed a runner to third in the top of the second, but were not able to score her. Amanda Acampora reached on a leadoff walk from Florida sophomore pitcher Stacey Nelson (Los Alamitos, Calif.). Michea Holness entered the game to pinch run for Acampora. Holness advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Lauren Proctor. Stacey Cullington sent a ball deep into right field that looked like it would go over the fence, but freshman Corrie Brooks (Christmas, Fla.) held onto the ball as she fell through the fence for the out. Holness advanced to third on the play, but would not score as the Gator defense made easy work of the final UMass batter of the inning.


The Gator defense held strong in the top of the fifth to prevent UMass from scoring. Davina Hernandez hit a lead off double. Amanda Morin followed with a base hit through the left side which advanced Hernandez to third. Nelson and the Florida defense took over from there. Freshman catcher Francesca Enea (Woodland Hills, Calif.) threw out Morin attempting to steal second. Nelson struck out the next batter and forced a pop out for the third out.


Nelson improved her record to 8-1 on the season with the win. Five of her seven strikeouts came in the final three innings, including striking out the side in the seventh to end the game. UMass pitcher Bailey Sanders went to 1-2 on the year with the loss.


The bottom of the second in game two saw DePaul score the first runs on the Gator defense in three games. Becca Heteniak led off the inning with a base hit through the left side. Katie Hanson came in to pinch run for her and advanced to second on an error by Enea on a throw down to first. Hanson moved to third on a sacrifice by Sandy Vokjik. Jackie Tarulli-Fisher was hit by a pitch to put runners at the corners for the Blue Demons. Smart defense from senior third baseman Melissa Zick (Tampa, Fla.) got the Gators second out of the inning as she fired the ground ball to Enea for the out at home. Linda Secka was safe at first on the fielder’s choice play. The DePaul runners advanced to second and third on a wild pitch from senior pitcher Stacey Stevens (Gainesville, Fla.). A double by Cassie Kleinsmith scored both runners and put Florida in a 2-0 hole.


DePaul extended its lead to 5-0 in its half of the third. Kate Sheaks led off with a double. She advanced to third on a sacrifice by Stephanie Blagaich and scored on Marcy Wilus base hit down the left field line. A two-run home run by Heteniak put the Blue Demons up by five runs.


Stevens took the loss for the Gators, her third of the year. Tracie Adix earned the win to improve to 4-0.


The Gators will continue Leadoff Classic play on Saturday at 1 p.m. as they take on Georgia Tech. Florida will wrap up pool play against No. 16 Baylor at 6 p.m. Going into Saturday’s games, Georgia Tech is the only undefeated game in pool play. Florida, DePaul and Baylor are all tied at 1-1. UMass is 0-2.



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