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Junior Mary Ratliff hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the fifth against Princeton.

Thursday March 22, 2007Softball Shuts Out Princeton in Doubleheader

Gainesville, FL

Junior Mary Ratliff hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the fifth against Princeton.

The No. 22 Florida softball team (24-14) shut out Princeton (9-11) in a doubleheader Thursday night at the Florida Softball Stadium. The Gators took the first game 1-0 and the second 9-0. The Florida pitchers have now thrown three straight shutouts.

 

Thursday’s second game ended much in the same way, Wednesday’s 9-0 win over Florida International did, only one inning sooner. In the Gator half of the fifth, senior Melissa Zick (Tampa, Fla.) knocked a base hit through the left side with the Gators up 7-0. Junior Mary Ratliff (Mt. Sterling, Ky.) stepped up to the plate and drove the first home run of her career over the fence just inside of the right field foul pole to end the game with the 9-0 Gator win by the eight-run rule.

 

Florida opened their scoring in the first inning. Sophomore Kim Waleszonia (Fontana, Calif.) opened the game with a double to left field. She moved to third on a sacrifice bunt from senior Lauren Roussell (Cerritos, Calif.). Sophomore Ali Gardiner (Waccabuc, N.Y.) picked up a RBI as Waleszonia scored on her ground out to first. Senior Lacy Howard (League City, Texas) took the team lead in home runs, as she sent her fourth of the season over the left field fence.

 

The Gators added five more runs in a second inning that saw all nine batters make an appearance at the plate. Freshman Corrie Brooks (Christmas, Fla.) opened the inning with a base hit. She advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt from sophomore Kristina Hilberth (Dunedin, Fla.). Brooks stole third to put her just 60 feet from a 3-0 game. Freshman Jenna Olmo (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) demonstrated great pitch selection and patience as she earned a walk on a nine-pitch plate appearance. Waleszonia hit her second double in as many innings to score both Gator runners for a 4-0 Gator lead. She stole second and Roussell walked to put runners on the corners for Gardiner. Roussell stole second, adding another runner in scoring position. Gardiner pushed a base hit to center to score Waleszonia. A Howard double, plated both runs and put her team up 7-0.

 

Senior pitcher Stacey Stevens (Gainesville, Fla.) allowed hits to the first two Tiger batters of the game, but then retired the next 15 straight, improving her record to 10-7. She struck out six batters. Calli Jo Varner took the loss for Princeton to move to 3-3 on the year. Jamie Lettire relieved Varner after Howard’s double in the second. She allowed only three more Gator hits and struck out two batters.

 

The scoring in game one was over quickly as Roussell hit a solo home run in the bottom of the first for the only run of the game.

 

The Florida defense did not allow a Princeton runner beyond second in the game and only allowed two base runners in an inning once. Florida sophomore pitcher Stacey Nelson (Los Alamitos, Calif.) allowed only two hits in the game and also walked three.

 

Nelson improved to 14-7 on the year as she recorded eight strikeouts in the win. It marked the first time in her career Nelson has thrown back-to-back complete game shutouts. She now has six shutouts on the season, the same amount she had in 39 appearances last season. Nelson’s 14 wins are also as many as she totaled in the 2006 season. Princeton’s Kristen Schaus gave up four hits and two walks in the loss, moving her record to 4-7.

 

Ratliff finished the day hitting two for five with a run scored and two RBI. She now leads the team with an active five-game hit streak. Waleszonia finished the day 3-for-6 with two runs scored and two RBI. Roussell went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and a RBI in the two games. Brooks also hit 2-for-4 with a run scored.

 

Florida continues its seven-game home stand on Saturday as it returns to Southeastern Conference play. The Gators will host No. 18 Georgia in a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m. at the Florida Softball Stadium. The first 250 fans in the gate will receive free water bottles courtesy of GRU. Both games will be broadcast live on WRUF AM 850 in Gainesville and world wide on www.wruf.com and www.GatorZone.com. Live video will also be available from GatorVision Online. Log in to www.GatorVision.tv for subscription information.

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