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Saturday March 24, 2007Softball Downs Rival Dogs

Gainesville, FL

The No. 22 Florida Softball team (26-14, 4-6 SEC) scored its most runs of the season and recorded its biggest win over Georgia with a 14-0 win in five innings in game two to sweep the No. 18 Bulldogs (28-11, 4-3 SEC) Saturday afternoon at the Florida Softball Stadium. The Gators took the first game of the day 5-2. Georgia had not been swept in a conference doubleheader since April 10, 2002.

 

Each of Florida’s nine starters on offense scored a run in game two. Everyone but sophomore Brooke Johnson (Lakeland, Fla.) got a hit in the game. Despite, not getting a hit, Johnson did reach base twice, once on an error and once on the fielder’s choice. Florida’s 14 runs were the most given up by Georgia in their program’s history.  

 

Sophomore Kim Waleszonia (Fontana, Calif.) got the Gators started with a walk to lead off the first inning of game two. Waleszonia was thrown out at second as senior Lauren Roussell (Cerritos, Calif.) was safe at first on a fielder’s choice. Roussell advanced to second on a ground out by sophomore Ali Gardiner (Waccabuc, N.Y.). Roussell scored the first run of the game as senior Lacy Howard (League City, Texas) reached on a Georgia error.

 

The Florida offense exploded in the second inning as 13 batters came to the plate. The Gators plated eight runs on four hits, four walks and two Bulldog errors. Junior Mary Ratliff (Mt. Sterling, Ky.) led off the inning with a walk. Freshman Corrie Brooks (Christmas, Fla.) ripped a base hit to left field. A Georgia error on an attempted sacrifice bunt by sophomore Kristina Hilberth (Dunedin, Fla.) allowed Ratliff to score and put herself and Brooks in scoring position at second and third. A second consecutive error by the Georgia infield plated Brooks and found Johnson safe at first with Hilberth at third. Johnson stole second to put two runners in scoring position for Waleszonia. Waleszonia drove a double to centerfield to score both runners and put Florida up 5-0. Waleszonia advanced on a wild pitch and Roussell walked, leaving Gator runners on first and third and allowing Roussell to steal her 10th base of the season. Gardiner walked to load the bases. Howard lined out to the Bulldog short stop for the first out of the inning. A second wild pitch from Georgia pitcher Kate Gaskill allowed all runners to advance and gave Florida a 6-0 lead. Ratliff drew her second walk of the inning to again load the bases. Brooks followed with her second base hit to left of the inning, this time to score Roussell. A Hilberth base hit cleared the bases and put the Gators in the lad by nine runs.

 

The Gators added five more runs on five hits in the third. Waleszonia led off the inning with her second home run of the season. With one out, Gardiner and Howard hit back-to-back base hits up the middle. A double by senior Melissa Zick (Tampa, Fla.) scored both runners. Ratliff followed with her second career home run to give Florida its 13th and 14th runs. Georgia made a pitching change and put game one starter, Christie Hamilton, in for Gaskill to record the final two outs of the inning.

 

The Bulldogs had trouble generating any offense as Florida senior pitcher Stacey Stevens (Gainesville, Fla.) allowed only one hit and three total base runners in the game. It was third one-hit game Stevens has thrown in her career. The Bulldogs got their hit in the top of the second. Allison Horne took first on a two-out walk. Kristin Schnake drove a base hit through the left side, but was retired for the third out of the inning on a fielder’s choice by Victoria Sanders.

 

Stevens’ record improves to 11-7 on the season with the win. Gaskill drops to 2-3. Hamilton allowed only one Gators hit in the 1.2 innings she pitched in relief.

 

Game one was much closer and the Bulldogs led until the bottom of the fifth inning.

 

Georgia opened the scoring with two runs in the top of the third. With two outs, Charvi Greer and Sojourner Moody hit back-to-back base hits. A Megan McAllister base hit scored both runners for the 2-0 Georgia lead.

 

Florida began to mount its comeback in the bottom of the same inning. With one out, Waleszonia knocked a single to right. She moved to second on an illegal pitch from Hamilton. Roussell and Waleszonia traded places on a double to left to narrow Georgia’s lead to one run at 2-1.

 

The Gators took the lead in the bottom of the fifth frame. Waleszonia led off with a double. Roussell followed with a base hit and drew a one-out walk to load the bases. Zick drew a RBI walk to tie the game at 2-2. Florida took the lead as Howard scored on a Georgia error.

 

Florida padded its lead with two runs in their half of the sixth. Johnson drove a two-out single to left. She scored on Waleszonia’s second double of the game. Waleszonia went to third on the play on a Georgia error and scored on the second Bulldog error of the inning to secure Florida’s 5-2 win.

 

Sophomore Stacey Nelson (Los Alamitos, Calif.) earned the win from the pitching circle to improve to 15-7 on the season, one more win than she totaled all of last season. She struck out nine and walked only one in the game. Hamilton (8-4) took the loss for the Bulldogs.

 

Waleszonia finished the day hitting three doubles and a home run on a 5-for-7 day at the plate with five runs scored and four RBI. Ratliff extended her hit streak to seven games on 2-for-4 hitting with a home run, a double, three runs scored and two RBI. Roussell also extended her hit streak to a personal season-high five games on 3-for-7 hitting with a double, two runs and an RBI. She also stole her 10th base of the season, which ties her total for her previous three seasons combined.

 

The Gators and Bulldogs will meet Sunday in the series finale with first pitch scheduled for 1 p.m. The first 250 fans in the gates will receive a coupon for a free Meet the Team dinner catered by Sonny’s following the game. Admission to all Florida Softball games is free. The gates open two hours before game time. Sunday’s game will be broadcast live on GatorZone.com and live video will be available on GatorVision Online.

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