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Saturday March 29, 2008Softball Sweeps Doubleheader Over LSU to Win Series

Gainesville, FL

The No. 3 Florida Softball team (39-2, 11-1 SEC) earned two wins over No. 8 LSU (29-6, 8-2 SEC), breaking an 11-game win streak the Tiger had held over the Gators. Florida took game one 6-1 after hitting a school record six doubles, and won game two 2-0, including a run on an inside the park home run by freshman Megan Bush (Anaheim Hills, Calif.).


The Florida win ended a 17-game win streak this season by the Tigers. This marks only the second time in school history the Gators have taken the series from the Tigers. The Gators also won the best-of-three series in 2003 after the two teams split the Saturday doubleheader and the Gators won the Sunday finale.


Floridaís six doubles in game one tied the school record for doubles in a game that was set against Centenary on Feb. 2, 2003. Florida tallied nine hits in the game. Junior Ali Gardiner (Waccabuc, N.Y.) led the way with a 2-for-2 performance with a double, a run scored, a RBI and two walks. Sophomore Francesca Enea (Woodland Hills, Calif.) also had two hits on the day as she went 2-for-4 with a double, a run scored and a RBI.


Florida used three consecutive doubles in the third inning to take a 2-1 lead. Junior Kim Waleszonia (Fontana, Calif.) led off the inning with a double to left. Freshman Aja Paculba (Wildomar, Calif.) followed with a double to score Waleszonia and advanced to third on the throw home. Gardiner hit the third double of the inning to score Paculba to put the Gators in the lead.


Florida used a four-run sixth to seal the win. Sophomore Corrie Brooks (Christmas, Fla.) led off the inning with the fourth Gator double of the game. She came around to score as Waleszonia attempted to sacrifice her to third, but the throw from the LSU third baseman went into right field, leaving Waleszonia safe and putting the Gators up 3-1. Waleszonia advanced to second on the play and headed for third, but was tagged out as she attempted to slide under the tag from LSU short stop Taylír Hollis. After a Paculba pop out, Gardiner grabbed a two-out base hit to keep the Gator offense alive. Enea doubled to left to score Gardiner from first. Senior Mary Ratliff (Mt. Sterling, Ky.) reached and advanced to second and Gardiner scored on an error by the Tiger centerfielder. Freshman Tiffany DeFelice (Coral Springs, Fla.) hit the record-tying sixth double of the game to score Ratliff and give Gators the final 6-1 lead.


LSU scored its one run in the opening frame. Jazz Jackson drew a one-out walk. She stole second and advanced to third on a Gator error on the play. She came around to score on a single to left field by Killian Roessner.


The Tigers had another chance to score in the top of the sixth, as they loaded the bases with two outs on two hits and a hit batter. Florida junior pitcher Stacey Nelson (Los Alamitos, Calif.) hung tough and struck out Shannon Stein for the final out of the inning.


Nelson improved to 24-2 on the year with the win. She allowed only three LSU hits in the game while striking out six. LSU pitcher Dani Hofer struck out five and walked five in the loss to move to 16-3 on the year. Tiffany Garcia pitched the final out for LSU in relief of Hofer.


The Gators got on the board in the bottom of the second in game two and held on there for the 2-0 win. Five different Gators had each of the teamís five hits in the game.


Ratliff led off the Gator half of the second by reaching on an error by the Tiger catcher. She advanced to second on a DeFelice sacrifice. Ratliff stole third and scored on a sacrifice fly by junior Kristina Hilberth (Dunedin, Fla.). Then Bush ripped a shot off the centerfield fence and just kept running. Head Coach Tim Walton waved her on the whole way. The play at the plate was close, but Bush slid under LSU catcher Roessner for the first inside the park home run since Walton took over the Gator program and gave the Gators the 2-0 lead.


LSUís best chance to score came in the fifth inning. Hollis singled up the middle to start the inning. Erika Sluss followed with a base hit to center. Jessica Mouse reached on a fielderís choice as Gator first baseman Gardiner threw Hollis out at third. Stein reached on an infield single to load the bases, but the Gator defense was ready as freshman pitcher Stephanie Brombacher (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) and catcher Hilberth connected to throw out Sluss and Mouse at home on consecutive fielderís choice plays.


Brombacher improved her record to a perfect 13-0 on the year. She struck out five and allowed only one walk. Cody Trahan took the loss for LSU to move to 10-2 on the season.


The two teams will face off in the series finale at 1 p.m. on Sunday. The first 250 Gator fans will receive a set a trading cards featuring the Gator juniors. The game will be broadcast live on via††

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