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Saturday April 19, 2008Softball Matches 2007 Win Total in Sweep of Cats

Gainesville, FL

Led by a career-high four RBI by freshmen Megan Bush (Anaheim Hills, Calif.) in game one and home runs by three different in game two, the No. 3 Florida softball team (50-2, 20-1 SEC) took the first two games of a three-game series with Kentucky (16-30, 3-18 SEC) Saturday afternoon at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium. The Gators defeated the Wildcats 8-0 and 6-5.


Game one ended in the fifth inning by the eight-run rule as Florida exploded for six runs in the first.  Bush led the Gators with a 2-for-3 performance, including a three-run home run. Sophomore Francesca Enea (Woodland Hills, Calif.) also had two hits, going 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored.  Junior Ali Gardiner (Waccabuc, N.Y.) and sophomore Corrie Brooks (Christmas, Fla.) also knocked in a run. The game marked only the second time all season the Gators scored six runs in the first frame.


Game one saw junior Stacey Nelson (Los Alamitos, Calif.) pick up her 32nd win of the season. The right-hander improved to 32-2 on the season, retiring ten straight to end the game after giving up Kentucky’s only hit in the second. Jennifer Young picked up the loss for Kentucky, falling to 3-13 on the year.


The Gators wasted no time getting on the board in the first, scoring six runs on four hits and an error. Lead-off batter junior Kim Waleszonia (Fontana, Calif.) walked to start the inning. Freshmen Aja Paculba (Wildomar, Calif.) stepped up to the plate next and lined a single to left. The left-fielder misplayed the ball, allowing Paculba to advance to third and Waleszonia to score to make it 1-0 in favor of the Gators. Gardiner came up next and traded places with Paculba, extending her hitting streak to ten by drilling a triple to right that saw Paculba cross the plate, upping the score to 2-0. Gardiner made it 3-0 when she ran home after a double to left by Enea. After Enea advanced to third on a groundout by senior Mary Ratliff (Mt. Sterling, Ky.), freshmen Tiffany DeFelice (Coral Springs, Fla.) walked. The first-inning barrage would conclude when Bush powered a towering three-run homer over the left field fence to give the Gators a 6-0 lead.


Florida would score again in the fifth with a two-out rally. DeFelice collected her second walk of the game to start the rally. After pinch-runner junior Brooke Johnson (Lakeland, Fla.) stole second, Bush doubled to left to make the score 7-0 in favor of the Orange and Blue. Brooks stepped up to the plate next and knocked in pinch-runner freshmen Ami Austin (Ormond Beach, Fla.) to end the game with a final score of 8-0.


Florida continued its momentum by picking up its 50th victory of the season with a 6-5 win in the second game, thanks in part to three home runs by Florida’s hitters. Brooks led the Gators in game two with a 3-for-3 performance that saw the sophomore hit a home run, knock in two and cross the plate twice. Paculba also acquired three hits, going 3-for-4 with a home run, two RBI and a run scored. Bush picked up where she left off in game one with a 1-for-3 performance that saw her collect her tenth home run of the season.


Freshmen hurler Stephanie Brombacher (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) upped her record to a perfect 16-0. Brombacher and the Gators defense sat down the first nine batters in order. Brombacher did not give up her first hit until the fourth. After four runs in the sixth inning, Nelson replaced Brombacher and retired the last five batters to record her fourth save of the season and secure a Gator victory.


The Orange and Blue would open up the scoring in the second game with a three-run second inning. With two outs and nobody on, Bush once again punched a home run to left, this time clearing the trees to give the Gators a 1-0 lead. Junior Kristina Hilberth (Dunedin, Fla.) singled to left to keep the inning going. Brooks followed with a home run to left for her first dinger of the season to make it 3-0 Gators.


The Gators continued to put runs on the board in the third, when Paculba connected on a 2-2 pitch for a home run shot over the scoreboard in left to put the Gators up by four. The Gators would load the bases with singles by Enea and Ratliff and a walk by DeFelice, but failed to score before the inning was over with.


Kentucky would capture its first run of the day in game two after Natalie Smith singled to start the top of the fourth. Molly Johnson doubled to right to make it 4-1 Florida.


Florida would get the run back and add another in the bottom of the fourth frame when Brooks led-off with a single to center. Waleszonia reached first after an error by the second baseman, and Brooks advanced to third. Paculba singled to left, knocking in Brooks to make it 5-1 Gators.  After Gardiner walked to load the bases with no outs, Enea hit a sacrifice fly to left, driving in Waleszonia to put the Gators up by a score of 6-1.


The Wildcats would claw back into the game in the sixth with four runs on four hits. Audrey Meyer drew a walk with one out and advanced to third on a double by Megan Yocke. Both runners scored when Smith doubled down the right field line to cut the Gators lead to 6-3. Johnson knocked in Smith with a double to left. Kentucky narrowed the lead to one on a Meagan Aull single up the middle to score Johnson and give the Wildcats its last run of the day.


The Gators return to action tomorrow at 1 p.m. to conclude its three-games series with the Wildcats. The first 500 fans will receive Gator Softball’s courtesy of Dodge. The players will be available on the concourse after the game for an autograph session.

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