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Saturday April 5, 2008Nelson Sets Career Wins Record in Softball Doubleheader Sweep

Starkville, MS

The No. 3 Florida softball team (42-2, 14-1 SEC) took two games over Mississippi State (32-13, 6-9 SEC) in Starkville on Saturday afternoon. Florida won the first game 5-0 and came from behind to take the second game 7-2.

 

Florida junior pitcher Stacey Nelson (Los Alamitos, Calif.) set a new school record for career wins as she earned the win in both games to record her 75th career win. The previous record was 74 games by Stacey Stevens from 2004-07.

 

The Florida offense was potent in the doubleheader as seven different Gators earned multiple hits on the day. Sophomore Francesca Enea (Woodland Hills, Calif.) led the way with a 3-for-5 performance with five RBI, two runs scored, a double and two home runs. Junior Ali Gardiner (Waccabuc, N.Y.) led the team with three runs scored, as she hit 3-for-7 on the day with two RBI and a double

 

Florida wasted no time getting in the game as the team put their first run on the board in the top of the first. Junior Kim Waleszonia (Fontana, Calif.) got on board as she was hit by a Misty Flesher pitch. With one out, Gardiner knocked a double to left center, scoring Waleszonia from first for a 1-0 Gator lead.

 

Florida added two more runs in the top of the third. Waleszonia led off the inning again, this time with a double down the left field line. Gardiner followed with a one-out base hit down the left field line. Waleszonia came home on a sacrifice fly by Enea. Senior Mary Ratliff (Mt. Sterling, Ky.) continued the Gator rally with a base on balls. A base hit by freshman Megan Bush (Anaheim Hills, Calif.) plated Gardiner to put Florida up 3-0.

 

The Gators scored their final runs in the top of the seventh. Waleszonia led off the inning with a bunt single, but was put out at second on a fielderís choice play that left freshman Aja Paculba (Wildomar, Calif.) safe at first. Enea knocked a two-out, two-run homer out in left center, giving the Gators the final 5-0 victory.

 

Nelson improved her record to 26-2 on the season with the win. She struck out seven and walked only one, while scattering five hits. Flesher pitched the first four innings for Mississippi State, moving to 13-7 with the loss. She gave up three runs on five hits and two walks while striking out three Gator batters. Elizabeth Woolven threw the final three innings, giving up two runs on two hits.

 

Florida had to come from a 2-0 deficit after three innings to take the game 7-2. Though they were slower to get started in game two, the Gator bats got hot in late innings as Florida tallied 12 hits in the game

 

The Gators found themselves down 2-0 after the bottom of the third. Courtney Bures drew a leadoff walk from Florida freshman Stephanie Brombacher (Pembroke Pines, Fla.). With one out, Hayle Guess laid down a bunt single, moving Bures to second. With two outs, a Gator throwing error on Jessie Spainís at bat allowed both runners to score for the 2-0 Bulldog lead. Florida got the third out of the inning in the same play though, throwing out Spain as she attempted to move to second.

 

After 10 straight outs for the Gator offense, Paculba grabbed the Gatorsí first hit of the game with a double to left. A base hit up the middle by Gardiner put the Gators on the board and reduced Mississippi Stateís lead to one run.

 

After a leadoff hit by Gina McCloud in the bottom of the fourth, Nelson came in to replace Brombacher in the circle for the Gators. The Gator defense took over as Ali Bainbridge popped up to Bush at short and Bush and Nelson connected to retire Brittany Bell, who was running for McCloud, on a fielderís choice play. Chelsea Bramlett was called out for leaving early on a steal attempts to end the inning.

 

Two Gator runs in the top of the sixth gave Florida the one-run lead. With one out, Paculba knocked a bas hit through the left side for her second hit of the game. She was out at second on a fielderís choice that found Gardiner safe at first. Enea hit a double off the wall in left center to put two Gators in scoring position for Ratliff. Ratliff ripped a two-RBI base hit up the middle to give the Gators the lead. Bush added another base hit, forcing the Bulldogs to bring in Woolven to relieve starter Kelsey Nurnberg. Woolven walked pinch hitting freshman Tiffany DeFelice (Coral Springs, Fla.), but forced junior Brooke Johnson (Lakeland, Fla.) into a fielderís choice for the third out of the inning.

 

Florida added to its lead with four runs in their final turn at bat. Sophomore Corrie Brooks (Christmas, Fla.) led off the final inning with a double to right field. She moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Waleszonia. A base hit up the middle by Paculba scored Brooks. Gardiner drew a walk from Woolven that prompted Mississippi State to bring in Flesher. Paculba was thrown out attempting to steal third, but Gardiner was safe at third leaving her in scoring position for Enea. Enea took Flesher to a full count before knocking her second home run of the day and 10th of the season out of left center for the 6-2 lead. Ratliff continued the Gator rally with a base hit up the middle. Bush added a double to left, leaving runners on first and third for junior Kristina Hilberth (Dunedin, Fla.). Hilberth was credited with the final RBI of the game as she knocked in Ratliff with a base hit up the middle for the final 7-2 score.

 

The win was the 75th of Nelsonís career and moved her record to 27-2 on the season. She gave up only one hit and a walk while striking out four Bulldogs through four innings. Brombacher threw three innings, giving up six hits and two runs, neither of which were earned. Nurnberg took the loss for Mississippi State, giving up six hits and the first three Gator runs. She is now 15-6 on the year.

 

Florida and Mississippi State will play the final game of the series on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET. Fans wanting to listen to the game can tune into Mississippi Stateís broadcast at www.wmsv.msstate.edu.

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