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Wednesday February 27, 2008Softball Ends Win Streak With Loss to Long Beach

Gainesville, FL

The No. 5/7 Florida Softball team (19-1) suffered its first loss of the season, 2-1, losing a hard-fought 10-inning battle to Long Beach State (8-6).

 

The game was truly a pitcherís dual as Florida junior pitcher Stacey Nelson (Los Alamitos, Calif.) and Long Beach Stateís Brooke Turner were locked in a scoreless tie through four innings. Each pitcher struck out seven batters and each allowed only two hits in the opening four innings. Each guided her team into the 10th inning and each struck out a career-high 16 batters in the game. It was Turner (5-2), however, who would come out on top, handing Nelson (11-1) and the Gators their first loss of the season.

 

The Gator bats would end the scoreless tie in the top of the fifth. Senior Mary Ratliff (Mt. Sterling, Ky.) led off the inning just beating out the throw on an infield base hit. Freshman Ami Austin (Ormond Beach, Fla.) came in to pinch run for Ratliff at first. Austin moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by freshman Tifffany DeFelice (Coral Springs, Fla.). With two outs and a 1-2 count, sophomore Corrie Brooks (Christmas, Fla.) fought off three more pitches before knocking a base hit to center field, just out of the reach of the Long Beach centerfielder, to score Austin from second for the 1-0 Gator lead.

 

Long Beach State got runners on base in consecutive at bats for the first time in the game in the bottom of the sixth. Fransiska Morlet led off the inning with a base hit just inside the left field line. Jessica Beaver followed with another base hit just inside the right field line. Nelson struck out Jonae Perez on three straight pitches to give the Gators the first out of the inning. Lacy Tyler drew a walk from Nelson to load the bases with only one out. Nelson took down Jennifer Griffin on strikes for the second out of the inning before walking Brooke LeSage, tying the game at 1-1. Nelson fanned Danielle Linke for the final out of the inning, sending the Gators into the final inning or regulation with a tie game.

 

The bottom half of the Gator lineup was due up in the top of the seventh. With one out, DeFelice drew a walk to represent Floridaís potential go ahead run. The final two batters of the inning went down on strikes though, leaving the fate of the game up to Nelson and the Gator defense in the bottom of the inning.

 

With one out, the 49ers number eight hitter, Ashley Levine, drove a base hit through the right side. Nelson took Morlet out on strikes for the second out of the inning before walking Beaver, moving Levine into scoring position. Nelson took care of business though, tying her career high with 13 strikeouts as she fanned Perez for the fourth time in the game, sending the game into extra innings.

 

Waleszonia led off the inning, laying down a perfect bunt for her third hit of the day. The next three batters were sat down in order though, ending the inning.

 

The Florida defense retired the 49ers in order in the bottom of the eighth, including two strikeouts looking from Nelson.

 

The Gators were not able to get a runner on base in their half of the ninth. Linke led off the bottom of the inning with a walk from Nelson. She moved to second on a sacrifice by Weber and to third on a ground out to first by Levine. Nelson sent the game into the 10th as she fanned her 16th batter of the game.

 

Junior Danyell Hines (Bryan, Texas) started the 10th inning at second due to international tie breaker rules. She moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by freshman Megan Bush (Anaheim Hills, Calif.). Brooks hit a fly ball to center field, but it was not quite deep enough to score Hines. Turner intentionally walked Waleszonia, putting Gators at first and third. Freshman Kelsey Bruder (Corona, Calif.) struck out for the final out.

 

Long Beachís 10th began much the same way as the Gatorís. Morlet started the game at second and moved to third on a Beaver sacrifice. Pinch hitter Bridgette Pagano popped up to Bush at short for the second out of the inning. It looked as if the Gators would live another inning as Tyler hit an infield ground ball deep to Paculba at second and she threw to Gardiner at first. However, first base umpire Les Carr said Gardinerís foot pulled from the bag, allowing Tyler to reach and Morlet to score the winning run. Florida head coach Tim Walton calmly argued the call, and the umpires conferenced to discuss the call, but held firm, giving Long Beach the 2-1 win.

 

Waleszonia propelled the Gator offense in the game with a 3-for-4 performance and a walk. Brooks had the lone Gator RBI.

 

Florida continues its trip West this weekend in the Worth Invitational in Fullerton, Calif. The Gators play Oregon State at Noon ET on Friday, followed by Pacific at 2:15 p.m. ET. All games w ill be broadcast live on GatorZone.com via Yahoo.com.

 

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