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Sunday May 20, 2007Softball Advances to Super Regionals With 3-0 Win

Gainesville, FL

The University of Florida Softball team advanced to its first ever NCAA Super Regional with a 3-0 win over Texas Sunday afternoon. The Gators will face the winner of the College Station regional next weekend. Dates and times will be released by the NCAA Monday morning.

 

“It was a big-time atmosphere, and I’m really proud of the way we handled ourselves throughout the game,” Florida Head Coach Tim Walton said. “I thought we were a little nervous, and their pitching staff did a great job of keeping us off balance, but we found a way to get it done. We really started to feed off the crowd in about the second inning, and we really started to get fired up in the seventh and eighth innings. I can speak on behalf of our team when I say that it’s great to be a Gator softball player right now.”

 

The Gators were led by a nine-inning shutout performance from sophomore hurler Stacey Nelson (Los Alamitos, Calif.). Nelson allowed only three hits and one walk while striking out eight Longhorn batters. She threw fewer than 10 pitches in all but the fifth and ninth innings. She set the school record for both appearances with 55 and starts 40. She is now 33-13 on the season.

 

“Our pitching was phenomenal,” Walton said. “Stacey (Nelson) did a great job. We did a good job of limiting our pitches today, and we really got ahead and put away hitters early. We also have to give credit to our defense. We made some great plays all the way around.”

 

The game came down to the ninth inning and the Gator seniors came up big. With the game knotted at 0-0, senior Lauren Roussell (Cerritos, Calif.) was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. Senior Melissa Zick (Tampa, Fla.) had the game-winning hit with a double to left center to score Roussell from first. The Gators would not end the inning there however, as sophomore Ali Gardiner (Waccabuc, N.Y.) lent the seniors a hand with another double to left field to score Zick. Following two strikeouts from Texas pitcher Meagan Denny, senior Lacy Howard (League City, Texas) knocked the third Gator double of the inning to left center to put the Gators up 3-0.

 

“Obviously, Melissa (Zick) came up with as big of a hit as we’ve ever had in this program’s history,” Walton said. “In the ninth inning, I walked up to her and she said ‘I want to hit, Coach.’ I wouldn’t make something like that up. In that situation, if I’m hitting, then I’m bunting.”

 

Nelson allowed her third hit of the game with one out in the ninth, but came back to strike out the final two batters of the inning for the win.

 

Denny came in the game in relief of starter Erin Tresselt with one out in the sixth to take the loss and finish the season at 21-16. She gave up four hits and struck out seven. Tresselt pitched 5.1 innings, striking out five batters and giving up only two hits.

 

Texas had one hit in each the first, fifth and ninth innings, but were never able to move a runner beyond second. Nelson and the Gator defense retired 11 straight Longhorns after allowing a hit to Shannon Thomas in the bottom of the first. The Gators did not allow another Texas batter on base until Megan Willis’ base hit to left to lead off the fifth.

 

Four of the Gators’ six hits on the day were doubles. In addition to the three in the ninth inning, sophomore Kim Waleszonia (Fontana, Calif.) hit one with one out in the sixth. Gardiner had three of the Gators’ six hits on the day, as she finished 3-for-4.

 

Texas A&M defeated Houston 13-2 in the first game of the day at College Station, forcing a second game to decide the regional champion. That game begins at 4:30 p.m. Eastern. Stay tuned to GatorZone.com for the latest information on Florida Softball post-season play.

 

 

 

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