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Saturday April 12, 2008Softball's Offensive Power Earns Two Wins at Georgia

Athens, GA

The No. 3 Florida softball team (45-2, 17-1 SEC) turned up the offense in a doubleheader sweep of No. 17 Georgia (35-15, 8-8 SEC) in Athens on Saturday afternoon. The Gators tallied 21 hits on the day en route to winning game one, 5-0, and game two, 9-5.


Freshman Aja Paculba (Wildomar, Calif.) led the team with a 4-for-6 performance on the day with four runs scored. Junior Ali Gardiner (Waccabuc, N.Y.) also had four hits, with a double a run scored and four RBI. Senior Mary Ratliff (Mt. Sterling, Ky.) and junior Kim Waleszonia (Fontana, Calif.) each finished the day 3-for-8 with a run scored. Ratliff also added a double and two RBI.


In addition to Floridaís strong hitting, junior pitcher Stacey Nelson (Los Alamitos, Calif.) had another strong outing, throwing 10 innings on the day without giving up a run. She earned the win in game one and the save in game two to move to 29-2 on the season with three saves. She struck out Jennie Auger to lead of the Georgia half of the second to set the new Florida record for career strikeouts. She now has struck out 631 batters in her career. Freshman pitcher Stephanie Brombacher (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) pitched the first four innings of game two to earn the win and keep her record unblemished at 14-0.


Florida wasted no time getting on the board in game one, as the Gators put up their first two runs in the top of the first. Waleszonia led off with a base hit to right center. Paculba followed with a base hit down the left field line. Floridaís third consecutive hit, a single off the left field wall just inside the foul line, by Gardiner scored Waleszonia for a 1-0 lead. With one out, Ratliff reached on an error to load the bases. Freshman Tiffany DeFelice (Coral Springs, Fla.) walked to bring in Paculba to put Florida up 2-0.


Sophomore Corrie Brooks (Christmas, Fla.) led off the Gator half of the second with a double, her ninth of the season. She came home as Gardiner ripped a shot up the middle for her second RBI of the game.


The Gators did not score again until the top of the final frame. Paculba drew a walk to lead off the inning. Gardiner knocked a base hit to left. Junior Danyell Hines (Bryan, Texas) came in to pinch run for her. Ratliff dropped a double in center field to score both runners for the final 5-0 score.


Taylor Schlopy took the loss for Georgia to move to 0-3 on the year.


Georgia got on the board first in game two, taking a 2-0 lead on two hits and a Gator error. With one out, Kristen Thomas hit a single through the left side. She advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Christina Reed. A Gator error found Kristin Schnake safe at second and allowed Thomas to score. Schnake came around to score on a Victoria Sanders base hit up the middle.


Florida immediately answered to tie the game at 2-2 in the top of the third. Freshman Kristine Priebe (Moorpark, Calif.) drew a lead off walk from Georgia pitcher Kate Gaskill. She moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Brooks. With two outs, Paculba dropped a base hit in left field. Gardiner grabbed a double off the left field fence to score both runners for the tie.


The Gators took the lead in the top of the fourth. Ratliff led off with a base hit and immediately scored on a towering home run to left by freshman Megan Bush (Anaheim Hills, Calif.) for the 4-2 Gator lead.


Florida added three more runs in the top of the fifth with the help of another home run. Waleszonia led off the inning with a bunt single. Paculba followed with a second bunt single for the Orange and Blue. Gardiner reached on a fielderís choice, forcing Waleszonia out at first for the first out of the inning. It would make no difference, however, as sophomore Francesca Enea (Woodland Hills, Calif.) blasted her 11th homer of the season over the left center field fence, putting the Gators up 7-2.


The Bulldogs cut the Gator lead two just two runs in the bottom of the fifth. Schnake was hit by a Brombacher pitch to start the inning. Sanders reached on a Gator error on an attempted sacrifice. Sojourner Moody loaded the bases with a bunt single. Nelson came in to replace Brombacher in the circle for the Gators. With one out, a base hit through the right side by Megan Wiggins scored Schanke and Sanders and a Gator throwing error allowed Moody to score to make the score 7-5. Nelson walked Alisa Goler, but retired the las two batters of the inning to end the Bulldog scoring threat.


Floridaís final two runs again came in the top of the seventh. Enea led off with a base hit. With one out Bush hit her second home run of the game and her eighth of the season barely of the fence in left, giving the Gators two more runs for the 9-5 win.


Gaskill pitched the complete game in the loss for Georgia to move to 14-6 on the year.


The Gators and the Bulldogs will face off in the final game of the series on Sunday at 2 p.m. The game will be broadcast live on via

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