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Sunday February 24, 2008Softball Wins Aquafina Invitational

Gainesville, FL

The seventh-ranked University of Florida Softball team (19-0) won its third regular-season tournament on Sunday afternoon. The Gators took the Aquafina Invitational title with a 5-2 win over Notre Dame (4-5).


Junior Kristina Hilberth (Dunedin, Fla.) and freshman Aja Paculba (Wildomar, Calif.) each hit 2-for-3 on the day. Both of Hilberth’s hits were bunt singles, while Paculba scored two of the Gators’ five runs on the day.


Florida took an early 2-0 lead in the bottom half of the first inning. Junior Kim Waleszonia (Fontana, Calif.) was hit by a Brittney Bargar pitch to lead off. Hilberth followed with a bunt single to the Notre Dame pitcher. Paculba plated Waleszonia with a base hit up the middle for the 1-0 lead. Following a Notre Dame double play, junior Ali Gardiner (Waccabuc, N.Y.) reached on a Notre Dame error, allowing Paculba to score from second.


Florida increased its lead to five runs in the fifth as Francesca Enea (Woodland Hills, Calif.) blasted a three-run home run out just inside the left field foul pole. That was Enea’s fifth home run of the season, besting her total from last season.


Notre Dame came back, narrowing Florida’s lead to three runs in the sixth inning. Florida junior pitcher Stacey Nelson (Los Alamitos, Calif.) had a no hitter going until Notre Dame’s Sarah Smith led off the sixth with a bloop base hit just on the grass in left field. Sadie Pitzenberger followed with a single through the left side and Katie Fleury walked to load the bases. The Gator defense pulled off a difficult double play from Gardiner to Hilberth at home and back to first where Paculba was covering. The play still left two Irish runners in scoring position for Heather Johnson. Johnson knocked a two-RBI base hit to left to make the score 5-2.


Nelson moved to 11-0 on the season as she fanned a career-high 13 Irish batters. She struck out the side in both the second and the seventh innings and threw six consecutive strikeouts in the first, second and third innings. Bargar took the loss for Notre Dame, evening her record at 3-3.


Florida goes away from the friendly confines of the Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium for the first time in 14 games next week as they travel to California. The Gators will play a single game at Long Beach State (rv) on Wednesday and face off against Oregon State (rv), Pacific, No. 23 Cal State Fullerton, Louisville (rv) and No. 12 Stanford in the Worth Invitational in Fullerton.



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