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Saturday February 23, 2008Softball Wins Two To Advance to Aquafina Gold Medal Game

Gainesville, FL

 

 

The No. 7 Florida Softball team (18-0) showed great fortitude in winning two hard-fought one-run games to advance to the Gold Medal Game of the Aquafina Invitational on Saturday. The Gators beat Notre Dame, 3-2, and Gardner-Webb, 4-3.

 

Florida came back from being down two runs to defeat Notre Dame, 3-2, and earn the top seed in the Aquafina Invitational. The Gators entered the bottom of the sixth down by two runs, with the top of the ordering coming to the plate. Junior Kim Waleszonia (Fontana, Calif.) reached base on balls to lead off the inning. Junior Kristina Hilberth (Dunedin, Fla.) reached on a fielderís choice, but advanced to second on an overthrow by the Notre Dame second baseman on the double play attempt. Hilberth motored home on a RBI single from freshman Aja Paculba (Wildomar, Calif.). Sophomore Francesca Enea (Woodland Hills, Calif.) was hit by a Brittney Bargar pitch. Both runners advanced on a ground out from junior Ali Gardiner (Waccabuc, N.Y.). Senior Mary Ratliff (Mt. Sterling, Ky.) tied the game at 2-2 with her RBI base hit through the right side to score Paculba. Junior Danyell Hines (Bryan, Texas) came in the game to pinch run for Ratliff at first and immediately stole second. Freshman Tiffany DeFelice (Coral Springs, Fla.) came up big for her team, with the game-winning hit, a RBI single straight up the middle for the 3-2 win.

 

Two Gator errors led to a Notre Dame unearned run in the top of the first.

 

The Fighting Irish extended their lead to 2-0 in the top of the third. Sarah Smith led off with an infield base hit. She was put out at second on a fielderís choice play that left Sadie Pitzenberger safe at first. A Katie Laing double scored Pitzenberger and put Florida down by its largest deficit of the season.

 

Floridaís defense took over from the third inning and did not allow another Irish batter on base in the last four inning.

 

Junior Stacey Nelson (Los Alamitos, Calif.) struck out five in the win to improve to 9-0 on the year. Bargar (3-2) took the loss for Notre Dame.

 

Florida broke a 3-3 tie in the bottom of the seventh against Gardner-Webb in the dayís late game.

 

DeFelice led off the games final frame with a base hit through the left side, representing what could have been the game-winning run. Junior Le-Net Franklin (Belton, Texas) came in to pinch run. Both Franklin and freshman Megan Bush (Anaheim Hills, Calif.) were out on a popped up bunt, leading to a double play. Sophomore Corrie Brooks (Christmas, Fla.) continued the fight for the Gators as she knocked a double to right. Hines came in to pinch run for her. Waleszonia followed with a walk-off double off the right field wall, scoring Hines for the 4-3 win.

 

Florida took a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the third. Bush led off the inning with a double to right. She advanced to third on a Brooks Sacrifice bunt. Waleszonia drove a RBI single through the right side to score Bush. She stole second and came home on a Hilberth base hit. Hilberth advanced all the way to third on the attempt to throw Waleszonia out at home. Hilberth crossed the plate for the third run of the game on a Paculba sacrifice fly.

 

Gardner-Webb scored its first run in the top of the fourth. Jessi Williams started the inning with a base hit. Mandy Ward followed with another base hit, moving Williams all the way to third. Williams scored on a Haley Scism sacrifice fly, narrowing Floridaís lead to just two runs.

 

The Bulldogs knotted the game at 3-3 in the top of the fifth. Adrienne Smith led off the frame with a base hit through the left side. Freshman Kelsey Bruder (Corona, Calif.) came in for the Gators in relief of freshman Stephanie Brombacher (Pembroke Pines, Fla.). Kelsey Witter stepped up to the plate and knocked a two-run home run out over center field for the tie game. Bruder and the Gator defense retired the next three batters to end the Gardner-Webb threat.

 

Nelson entered the circle for the Gators in the top of the sixth to earn 10th win of the season and second of the day.

 

Florida will face Notre Dame in the Aquafina Invitational Gold Medal game at 12:15 p.m. on Sunday. North Florida and Gardner-Webb will open the day at 10 a.m. with the Bronze Medal Game. Fans are reminded they will have to enter campus via Radio Road and park at the Microbiology Building as the roads around Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium will be closed for a marathon until 2 p.m.

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