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Friday March 2, 2007Softball Splits One-Run Games in First Day in California

Los Angeles, CA

The No. 17 Florida Softball team (17-6) split two one-run games in the first day of the Stacy Winsberg Memorial Tournament hosted by UCLA at Easton Stadium in Los Angeles, Calif. The Gators lost the first game 1-0 to No. 25 Illinois State, but defeated Long Beach State 3-2.


Florida found itself in another tied game going into the seventh inning against Long Beach State. Sophomore Kim Waleszonia (Fontana, Calif.) led off with a bunt single, her third hit of the day. She moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by senior Lauren Roussell (Cerritos, Calif.). A ball from sophomore Ali Gardinerís (Waccabuc, N.Y.) bat went right through the legs and under the glove of the 49ers second baseman, allowing Waleszonia to score and give the Gators the 3-2 lead.


Sophomore pitcher Stacey Nelson (Los Alamitos, Calif.) and the Gator defense took care of the final three batters of the game to seal the win.


The Gators got started on the right foot in game two as Waleszonia led off with a bunt single. Roussell followed with a sacrifice bunt, but was safe at first on the Long Beach State error. Following the first out of the inning, Gardiner reached on catchers interference call to load the bases. Waleszonia was thrown out at home on a fielderís choice play by junior Mary Ratliff (Mt. Sterling, Ky.) for the second out of the inning, still leaving the bases loaded. Sophomore Savana Kelly (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) knocked her first hit of the season into left field to score Roussell and give the Gators the 1-0 lead.


Senior Melissa Zick (Tampa, Fla.) reached base on a 49er error to lead off the top of the third. Gardiner singled back at the Long Beach pitcher. A Ratliff sacrifice moved both runners into scoring position. Kellyís ground out to the short stop scored Zick for the 2-0 Gator lead.


Long Beach tied the game at 2-2 in the bottom half of the third. Janelle Zuniga beat out a hit deep into the pocket between second and third. The ball was fielded beautifully by Roussell and the throw beat Zuniga to first, but the first base umpire said first baseman Gardiner pulled her foot, leaving Zuniga safe. She moved into scoring position on a wild pitch from Florida senior pitcher Stacey Stevens (Gainesville, Fla.). Gabby Soto entered the game to pinch run for Zuniga at second. Kourtnee Gervasi walked. Both runners advanced on a sacrifice bunt. A Whitney Radcliff sacrifice fly to left scored Soto to narrow Floridaís lead to just one run. Jessica Beaverís base hit scored Gervasi for the tie.


Nelson came in the game in relief of Stevens with the game tied, one out and a runner on second in the bottom of the sixth to earn the win and improve her record to 11-2. Lacy Tyler took the loss for Long Beach State. None of the three runs she gave up were earned.


The first game of the day with Illinois State was also tied through most of the game, but the pitchersí duel ended in a 1-0 loss for Florida.


The teams were knotted through five innings before Illinois State scored the only run of the game. With one out, Jackie Williams beat out a slow rolling infield single. She came around to score on a double to the left field line by Kara Nelson for the 1-0 Redbird lead.


The Gator defense got in a jam in the top of the seventh, down by one run. Nelson issued her first walk of the game to leadoff batter Kelsey Warning. Andrea Shifflet came in the game to pinch run for her. Jessie Buker knocked a double to deep right center that looked as if it would score Shifflet, but she was held up at third to keep the score still at 1-0 in favor of Illinois State. Nelson went to work and struck out the next batter for the first out of the inning. She forced a pop up to Zick for out two and a ground out to Zick for the final out of the inning.


The Gators worked on a comeback in the bottom of the seventh. With two outs, Ratliff drew a walk from pitcher Shannon Nicholson after Nicholson had retired 17 Gators straight. Kelly stepped up to the plate and forced an error from the Redbird third baseman allowing her to second and Ratliff to third. Illinois State brought in Stacy Birk to relieve Nicholson in the circle. Birk earned the save as she forced a ground out from senior Lacy Howard (League City, Texas) for the final out of the game


Nelson retired the first nine Illinois State batters, including six on strikeouts, before the Redbirds got their first hit of the game in the fourth. She struck out eight batters in only her second loss of the season. Nicholson earned the win with 6.2 innings of work, giving up only one hit and also recording eight strikeouts.


Ratliff had Floridaís only hit of the game, a double in the second inning.


Florida will continue play in the Stacy Winsberg Memorial Tournament on Saturday as they face host No. 12 UCLA at 3:30 p.m. ET and Loyola-Chicago at 8:30 p.m. ET.





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