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Thursday April 5, 2007Softball Upends Florida State in Doubleheader

Gainesville, FL

The 23rd-ranked Gator Softball team (30-16) swept a doubleheader against in-state rival Florida State on Wednesday night at the Florida Softball Stadium. The Gators took the first game, 5-1, and came from behind to win game two 4-3 in a dramatic bottom of the seventh.


The Gators were down by one run at 3-2 going into the bottom of the seventh in game two. Junior Mary Ratliff (Mt. Sterling, Ky.) led off the inning with a base hit through the left side. With one out, sophomore Brooke Johnson (Lakeland, Fla.) reached on a throwing error by the Seminole third baseman, allowing Ratliff to move all the way to third. Johnson stole second to put two runners in scoring position for sophomore Kim Waleszonia (Fontana, Calif.), who was only 1-for-3 on the game, but had gone 3-for-3 in the first game of the night. Waleszonia knocked a towering sacrifice fly deep into right field to score Ratliff easily. Johnson got to third and rounded as she was waved home by head coach Tim Walton. It was a safe bet either way as either Johnson’s speed would have her score the winning run, or she would be the third out of the inning and the game would move into extra innings. There was no question at the plate though, as Johnson slid in ahead of the throw from the Florida State short stop on the relay to give the Gators the 4-3 victory.


The Seminoles put the first run of game two on the board in the top of the seventh on a Brittany Osmon lead off home run.


Florida tied the game in the bottom of the third. Sophomore Kristina Hilberth (Dunedin, Fla.) led off the inning with an infield base hit. Johnson walked and Waleszonia drove a base hit through the left side to load the bases. Senior Lauren Roussell (Cerritos, Calif.) was safe on a fielder’s choice as Hilberth was thrown out at home, but leaving the bases still loaded. Freshman Francesca Enea (Woodland Hills, Calif.) knocked a sacrifice fly to right to tie the game at 1-1.


Florida State answered with a run in the top of the fourth. With one out, Yuruby Alicart hit a home run to center for the 2-1 Seminole lead.


The Gators responded with a run of their own in the bottom half of the same inning. Senior Lacy Howard (League City, Texas) led off with a base hit. She scored from first on a double from fellow senior Melissa Zick (Tampa, Fla.) to know the game at two runs a piece.


Florida State took the lead again in the top of the fifth. Two walks to lead off the inning brought sophomore Stacey Nelson (Los Alamitos, Calif.) in to relieve senior Stacey Stevens (Gainesville, Fla.) in the pitching circle. Veronica Wootson reached on a fielder’s choice as the Gator defense put out the lead runner at third. Another fielder’s choice put out Wootson at second, but allowed Michelle Snyder to stand just 60 feet from the lead. Carly Wynn drove a double to left center to score Snyder and give her team a 3-2 lift.


The game would stay that way until Waleszonia’s sacrifice fly in the seventh.


Nelson (18-9) pitched the final three innings and gave up only one hit and one walk, while striking out three batters to earn the win. Melissa May took the loss for Florida State. She gave up seven hits and one walk and struck out only one Gators batter.     


The Gators used seven hits to score five runs to put the Seminoles away in game one.


The Gators scored first in the bottom half of the first inning as Waleszonia doubled, advanced to third on a Roussell sacrifice and scored on a fielder’s choice from Enea. 


The Seminoles came back to tie the game in the second inning. Nelson gave up a walk and then hit the next batter with an inside pitch. Back-to-back singles by Snyder and Wootson tied the game up at one. 


That was as close as the Seminoles would get the rest of the game. The Gators reclaimed the lead in the bottom of the third. With one out, Waleszonia reached first on an infield hit, and on the next pitch stole second base. Roussell doubled home Waleszonia to give the Gators the edge.  With two outs, sophomore Ali Gardiner (Waccabuc, N.Y.) dropped a single into right field to bring Roussell home and give the Gators a 3-1 lead. 


Florida tacked on two more runs in the fifth as Waleszonia smacked her third triple of the season to right field with one out in the inning. Johnson took the first pitch she saw from Tiffany McDonald over the left field fence for her second home run of the season to put the Gators up 5-1.


Nelson took care of the rest as she mowed down the Seminoles in order in the sixth and seventh innings. Four of the six final outs were strikeouts from Nelson. She struck out a total of eight Florida State batters in the win.


Waleszonia led the Gators on the day with a 4-for-6 performance on the day, including a perfect 3-for-3 with three runs scored in game one. She had a double, a triple, a stolen base and the game-winning sacrifice fly in game two. Johnson finished the day 1-for-4, but scored three runs and tallied two RBI. Enea was 0-for-3, but recorded two RBI. Zick went 2-for-3 with a RBI in game two.


The Gators return to Southeastern Conference play on Friday and Saturday as they host a three-game series with the Arkansas LadyBacks. Friday’s doubleheader begins at 4 p.m. The first 250 fans will receive trading cards featuring the Florida juniors and the juniors will be available for autographs following the second game. Saturday’s Eggstravaganza game begins at noon. There will be an egg hunt for all children under 12, an egg coloring contest and the Easter bunny will be handing out candy filled eggs to all fans.

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