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Sunday March 2, 2008Softball Improves to 24-1 With Dramatic Win Over Stanford

Fullerton, CA

The No. 5 Florida Softball team improved to 24-1 in dramatic fashion on Sunday afternoon as they took Louisville (7-8), 4-2, in the dayís first game, the came from behind to give No. 10 Stanford (20-2) only its second loss of the season, 4-3.


The game against Stanford found Florida trailing 3-1 going into the seventh, but late inning heroics from lone senior Mary Ratliff (Mt. Sterling, Ky.) gave the Gators their 24th win of the season. Freshman Tiffany DeFelice (Coral Springs, Fla.) led off the inning, driving a base hit through the left side. Freshman Ami Austin (Ormond Beach, Fla.) came in to pinch run for her. Junior Ali Gardiner (Waccabuc, N.Y.) held out for a five pitch walk from Stanford pitcher Missy Penna. Freshman Kristen Adkins (McKinney, Texas) pinch ran for Gardiner. Then Ratliff stepped up to the plate. On a 2-2 count, she blasted her sixth home run of the season over the fence in left center field for the walk-off win. ††


Florida was leading 1-0 going into the top of the sixth, but Stanford came back on the Gators and took the lead. Anna Beardman beat out an infield base hit to load the bases. She was thrown out at second on a fielderís choice play for the first out of the inning, but Alissa Haber was safe at first. Tricia Aggabao drew a walk from Florida junior pitcher Stacey Nelson (Los Alamitos, Calif.). After striking out in the previous two innings, Maddy Coon grabbed a hit through the left side to load the bases. Michelle Smith and Melisa Koutz drew back-to-back, bases loaded walks from Nelson to go up 2-1. Shannon Koplitz drove a base hit to right to score Coon, giving Stanford the two-run lead. With the bases still loaded, Rosey Neill reached on a fielderís choice as a headís up play by Nelson to junior catcher Kristina Hilberth (Dunedin, Fla.) at home put Smith out a home for the second out. Erin Howe grounded out to Nelson in the circle for the final out of the inning.


Florida opened the game with a run in the bottom of the first. Junior Kim Waleszonia (Fontana, Calif.) got the Gators started with a base hit to right. She advanced to second on a sophomore Francesca Enea (Woodland Hills, Calif.) ground out to short. DeFelice knocked a double to center, scoring Waleszonia for the 1-0 lead.


Nelson and Penna entered the game with identical 13-1 records. Nelson came out on the winning end to improve to 14-1, while Penna fell to 13-2.


The bottom of the opening frame against Louisville saw the Gators score two runs. Waleszonia led off the inning with a base hit up the middle. Freshman Aja Paculba (Wildomar, Calif.) reached on an error by Lousiville short stop Colby Wherry. Enea drove a base hit to shallow center to load the bases. A Kristen Wadwell wild pitch scored Waleszonia and advanced all the Gator runners. DeFelice grabbed the Gatorsí third hit of the inning to score Paculba, putting the Gators up 2-0.


Louisville cut the Gator lead in half in the top of the third. Kristi Cunningham beat out an infield lead off base hit. Melissa Roth followed with a base hit down the left field line. A Sarah Totten ground out put both runners in scoring position. Chelsea Bemis grounded out to second, but earned the RBI as Cunningham crossed the plate.


Florida answered and took a two run lead again in the home half of the inning. DeFelice drew a two-out walk from Wadwell. Gardiner knocked a double to the warning track in dead center to score DeFelice from first for the 3-1 lead.


The Gators plated their final run in the fourth. With one out, Waleszonia laid down a bunt single in front of the Cardinalís third baseman. Paculba added a base hit through the left side. Enea hit into a fielderís choice, leaving her safe at first, but putting Waleszonia out at third for the second out of the inning. Junior Brooke Johnson (Lakeland, Fla.) came in to pinch run for Enea. DeFelice was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Junior Le-Net Franklin (Belton, Texas) entered the game to pinch run for DeFelice. Gardiner laced a base hit to center field, scoring Paculba. Johnson reached third and headed for home, but was gunned down at the plate from centerfield for the final out of the inning.


Louisville added a run in the sixth. Freshman pitcher Stephanie Brombacher (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) hit lead off batter Bemis with a pitch. Nelson entered the game in relief of Brombacher in the circle. Wherry, the first batter Nelson faced, took her for a base hit. Kassie Stanfill drew a walk from Nelson to load the bases with no outs in the inning. A Brittany York sacrifice fly gave the Cardinals their final run of the game making the score 4-2 in favor of the Gators.


Brombacher improved to 9-0 on the season with the win. She struck out three and walked one while allowing four Louisville hits. Both of the Cardinalís runs were credited to Brombacher. Nelson earned her first save of the season, pitching the final two innings, also striking out three and walking one and allowing two hits. Wadwell moved to 3-5 on the year with the loss.


The Gators now get a couple days off before taking on UCF at the Katie Seashole Pressly Softball Stadium on Thursday at 6 p.m. Florida begins Southeastern Conference play on Saturday at 1 p.m. against Ole Miss, also at Pressly Softball Stadium.

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