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Sunday March 30, 2008Three Homers Lead No. 3 Softball to Series Sweep Over No. 8 LSU

Gainesville, FL

Three homeruns helped the No. 3 Florida softball team (40-2, 12-1 SEC) defeat the No. 8 LSU Tigers (29-7, 8-3 SEC), 7-0, on Sunday to earn the series sweep. Florida’s 40th win of the season also marked the first time the Gators have swept the series with LSU in the 12 year history of the program.

 

The fans helped the Gators to victory as they recorded the second-largest crowd in school history on Saturday with 1,845 in attendance. Though the crowd was smaller on Sunday, their support was just as strong.

 

“I am thankful for such great fans,” Florida Head Coach Tim Walton said. “The support from the community was impressive. The team fed off their energy from introductions on Saturday through the whole weekend.”

 

Senior Mary Ratliff (Mt. Sterling, Ky.), junior Ali Gardiner (Waccabuc, N.Y.) and sophomore Francesca Enea (Woodland Hills, Calif.) were responsible for all seven of Florida’s runs. Ratliff earned three RBI on a 2-for-3 performance with a run scored, a double and a home run. Gardiner earned two RBI on a perfect 2-for-2 performance with three runs scored, a walk and a home run. Enea finished the day with two RBI on a 1-for-3 performance with a home run.

 

Aja Paculba (Wildomar, Calif.) kick-started the team as she reached base on balls with one out in the first inning. She stole second and plated the first run of the game on a base hit to center by Gardiner. Enea followed with a two-run home run to center field, her eighth of the season, to put the Gators ahead 3-0. After Enea’s home run, LSU brought in Cody Trahan to relieve starter Dani Hofer in the circle to close out the inning.

 

Paculba again started a Gator rally in the third as she led off with a double to right. Gardiner drew a walk from Trahan. Ratliff added two more to the runs column for the Gators as she brought in Paculba and Gardiner with a double through the right side.

 

The fifth inning saw two more Gator home runs and another LSU pitching change. Gardiner and Ratliff both hit homers out of the stadium, their fourth and eighth of the season, respectively. Tiffany Garcia came in for Trahan after Ratliff’s homer and remained for the rest of the game.

 

Junior pitcher Stacey Nelson (Los Alamitos, Calif.) had another stellar performance with five strikeouts in the game, while scattering only three LSU hits. Her overall record improves to 25-2. Hofer took the loss for LSU to move to 16-4 on the year.

 

“This was a huge series sweep,” Walton said. “We have a lot of respect for LSU as a program. For us to take three is a tremendous accomplishment for our program.”

 

The Gators next take on the USF Bulls at home Wednesday with a double-header starting at 4 p.m. The first 500 fans will receive a Gator softball courtesy of Dodge

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