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Saturday March 8, 2008Softball Earns Doubleheader Sweep Over Ole Miss

Gainesville, FL

The No. 5 Florida Softball team (26-1, 2-0 SEC) opened the Southeastern Conference portion of the season with a doubleheader sweep of Ole Miss (13-6, 0-2 SEC) in Gainesville on Saturday afternoon. The Gators tallied 14 hits in the two games, including six for extra bases.

 

Late inning heroics by senior Mary Ratliff (Mt. Sterling, Ky.) gave Florida its first SEC win of the season. With the game tied 3-3 in the bottom of the seventh, junior Kim Waleszonia (Fontana, Calif.) led off with a single to center field. Freshman Aja Paculba (Wildomar, Calif.) followed with an infield base hit. Two batters later, with two outs, Ratliff stepped up to the plate and knocked the game-winning single to right field, scoring Waleszonia for the 4-3 win.

 

Florida got on the board first, as the bottom half of the lineup came up with Floridaís first hits of the game in the bottom of the second. Ratliff led off the inning with a base hit to right center. She advanced to second on a ground out to short by freshman Megan Bush (Anaheim Hills, Calif.). Junior Kristina Hilberth (Dunedin, Fla.) reached on an infield base hit. A sophomore Corrie Brooks (Christmas, Fla.) double to center plated Ratliff and advanced Hilberth to third. Waleszonia brought Hilberth home with a sacrifice fly to left for a 2-0 Gator lead.

 

Ole Miss came back to take a one-run lead in the top of the fourth. Three straight walks from Florida junior pitcher Stacey Nelson (Los Alamitos, Calif.) loaded the bases for the Rebels. Michelle May reached on a fielderís choice as Brooks connected to Hilberth to throw Lauren Grill out at the plate. Lauren Rowe reached on a Gator error, allowing Ashley Dowdy to score and leaving the bases still loaded. An Aly Presswood base hit tied the game at 1-1. Morgan Button grounded out to second for the second out of the inning, but May came home to give put the Rebels up by one.

 

A Bush home run, her fourth of the season, tied the game at 3-3 in the home half of the fourth.

 

Ole Miss loaded the bases on three walks with one out in the sixth inning, but Floridaís defense shut them down. Nelson struck out Alise Doubt and Lisa Conchos lined out to junior Brooke Johnson (Lakeland, Fla.) for the last out.

 

Nelson (15-1) gave up only two hits in the win, but walked eight. She also struck out seven Rebel batters. Tara Willit started the game for Ole Miss, but was relieved by Lindsey Perry to start the fifth. Perry took the loss, evening her record at 2-2. The Ole Miss pitchers gave up 10 hits, walked four and struck out three Gators.

 

The Gators scored first again in the second game of the doubleheader to end the second inning leading 2-0. With one out, junior Ali Gardiner (Waccabuc, N.Y.) knocked a double to center field. Ratliff followed with a RBI triple, the first of her career. Ratliff came home on a sacrifice fly to left by Waleszonia.

 

Ole Miss narrowed Floridaís lead to 2-1 in the top of the fifth as Doubt scored on a Grill RBI single up the middle.

 

Florida stretched the lead again in the fifth. Hilberth led off with a single up the middle. Brooks followed with a perfectly laid bunt single. Waleszonia hit the Gators second triple of the game, her third of the season, to score Hilberth and Brooks for the 4-1 advantage.

 

Ole Miss caused some trouble in the top of the seventh as Grill hit a one-out home run with a runner on to bring the Rebels within one. Nelson came in the game to relieve freshman hurler Stephanie Brombacher (Pembroke Pines, Fla.). Nelson gave up a hit to the first batter she faced, but followed that with a strikeout for the second out of the inning. Dowdy was able to move to third on two wild pitches and Rowe walked to put runners on first and third, but Nelson took care of business, striking out Button for the final out of the game to preserve the 4-3 win.

 

Brombacher moved to 10-0 on the season, while Nelson earned her second save. The Gators were out hit for only the second time all season as Brombacher scattered eight hits, while Ole Miss pitcher Becky Nye (6-2) gave up six to the Gators in the loss.

 

The two teams will close out the series on Sunday at 1 p.m. at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium.

 

 

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