19 University of Florida Softball team (47-20) tied the school record for wins
in a season as it won its first opening round NCAA Tournament game since 2003
with a 7-0 win over Stetson Friday night in NCAA Regional play in Gainesville. The Gators also
set a new school record for stolen bases and sophomore pitcher Stacey Nelson (Los Alamitos, Calif.)
set the record for wins with her 31st win of the year.
we came out after a very good week of practice in which we prepared ourselves
well for Stetson,” Florida
head coach Tim Walton said. “They’re a good team, obviously, after just winning
their conference tournament. I’m proud of the way we handled ourselves, both
offensively and defensively. Overall, I thought our offense really came out
ready to play and we did a good job running the bases; we were smart out
Florida opened the scoring in the bottom
of the third. Sophomore Kim Waleszonia (Fontana, Calif.)
was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. She then stole second to move into
scoring position. Senior Lauren Roussell
(Cerritos, Calif.) beat out a deep infield hit.
Waleszonia advanced to third of a fly out to right field by senior Melissa Zick (Tampa, Fla.).
A two-RBI double by sophomore Ali
Gardiner (Waccabuc, N.Y.)
the 2-0 lead. Junior Mary Ratliff (Mt.
Sterling, Ky.) walked
on four straight pitches. Sophomore Ashley
Harris (Royal Palm Beach, Fla.) came in to pinch run for Gardiner at
second. Both runners advanced on a wild pitch from Stetson starter Erica
Deemers. Senior Lacy Howard (League
City, Texas) beat out a close play at first on an infield hit back at the short
stop for the RBI single to score Harris for the three-run lead.
Florida added two more runs in the
fourth. Sophomore Kristina Hilberth
got her team going with a one-out base hit to left center. She stole second on
a strike to Waleszonia. Roussell drew a two-out walk. Zick legged out her third
triple of the season to give the Gators the 5-0 edge.
led off the Gator half of the fifth with a single up the middle. With one out,
Howard drove a base hit to left. Freshman Corrie
Brooks (Christmas, Fla.)
knocked a base hit up the middle to score Ratliff and push Howard to second.
Howard was caught attempting to steal third for the second out of the inning
and Brooks took second on the play. Hilberth drew a walk to reach base for the
third time in the game and continue the Gators turn at bat. Waleszonia ripped
her first hit of the game to centerfield to score Brooks for the final Gator
run of the game.
making their first NCAA appearance, gave the Gators a scare in the top of the
third. With one out, Amy Peters singled to left field. Amy Joyce was safe at
first on a fielder’s choice play that put Peters out at second. Joyce then
stole second and moved just 60 feet away from scoring on a Sherrel Fountain
base hit to left. Florida’s
Nelson took care of business though, as she struck out Nicole Forbes to end the
improved to 31-13 on the season, best the previous record of 30 set by Florida
All-American Chelsey Sakizzie in 1997 and 1998. Nelson struck out eight batters
and only allowed two hits in 4.1 innings of work. Senior Stacey Stevens (Gainesville,
Fla.) came in to relieve Nelson
with one out in the fifth, striking out three additional batters. The 11
strikeouts are the second-most by the Gator pitching staff this season. Deemers
took the loss for Stetson to move her record to 21-6 on the year. She gave up
the first three runs before being relieved by Heather Colding in the fourth.
Colding lasted two innings and gave up the remaining four Gator runs. Amanda
Lindsey pitched the final inning for the Hatters.
wins is a tremendous accomplishment,” Walton said of Nelson’s school record. “I
definitely can vouch for her work ethic. I challenged her over the summer and
she worked at it and had a great summer. I can tell you if it weren’t for her,
we wouldn’t be sitting in front of you right now.”
Florida tallied 12 hits in the game as
every one of its starters had at least one hit. Ratliff, Howard and Hilberth
each had two hits on the day. Ratliff and Hilberth each reached in every plate
appearance. Each went 2-for-2, with Ratliff earning two walks and Hilberth
earning one. Roussell scored two runs and Zick and Gardiner each earned two
RBI. Zick has now reached base safely in 18 consecutive games. She has had hits
in 17 of those games.
bottom half of the first inning, Zick drew a two-out walk from Stetson starter
Erica Deemers. Zick then stole second for the 113th Gator stolen base of the
season, beating the school record of 112 (112-142) set by the 2003 squad. The
Gators stole four more bases on the game, marking the sixth time this season
the team has stolen five or more bases in a game. The Gators are now 117 bases
in 138 attempts.
now the second athlete at Florida to play in two NCAA Championship events in
the same season as she also started at defender in each of the Florida soccer
team’s three matches in the 2006 NCAA Tournament. Former volleyball and
basketball athlete and current Santa
Fe Community College
women’s basketball coach, Chanda Stebbins played in the volleyball and women’s
basketball NCAA Championship in the 1993-94, 1994-95 and 1995-96 academic years.
Gators now advance to face Georgia Tech at 1 p.m. Saturday. Georgia Tech
3-2 on a walk off home run in the seventh in the first game of the day. Texas and Stetson will
face off in an elimination game at 3:30 p.m. Saturday. All of Florida’s NCAA Tournament games are
available free on GatorVision Online and are broadcast live on WRUF AM 850 and