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Saturday February 21, 2009Softball Finishes Strong at Cathedral City Classic, Beating UNLV, 5-1

Palm Springs, Calif.

No. 2/2 University of Florida won its final game of the Cathedral City Classic, beating UNLV, 5-1, on Saturday afternoon in Palm Springs, Calif. The Gators (12-2, 0-0 SEC) were led by sophomore Aja Paculba (Wildomar, Calif.) and junior Francesca Enea (Woodland Hills, Calif.), who went 2-for-4 and 2-for-3, respectively.


Sophomore Stephanie Brombacher (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) earned her seventh victory of the season and she improved to 27-0 in her career. Senior Stacey Nelson got the save, her first of the season and the 16th of her career.


The Gators got on the board in the top of the third. Freshman Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville , Fla.) earned her first career hit in a big way, nailing one to deep right field. The right fielder could not handle the hard-hit ball and Moultrie used her speed to hustle home for an inside-the-park home run. That got the Gators going as Paculba followed with a base hit through the left side. Senior Kim Waleszonia (Fontana, Calif.) bunted her way onto first and a throwing error by the Rebel third baseman got Paculba to third. Waleszonia swiped second to move into scoring position. Senior Ali Gardiner (Waccabuc, N.Y.) walked to load the bases and Enea was hit to force in UFs second run. Junior Corrie Brooks (Christmas, Fla.) drew a walk to give Florida a 3-0 lead.


UNLV went to its bullpen to bring in Jessica OConnor. The freshman righty got the final two outs of the inning before the Gators could do anymore damage.


With a three-run lead, Nelson relieved Brombacher in the bottom of the fifth. The Rebels scored their lone run in the sixth. Marissa Nichols took her base when she was hit by Nelson to begin the inning. She moved to second on a grounder to second and to third on a wild pitch. Jaci Hull smoked one to center field that one-hopped the fence for a ground-rule double and UNLVs lone RBI.


Florida added two insurance runs in the top of the seventh. Paculba started things off with a single up the middle. Waleszonia laid down a sacrifice bunt to move her teammate over. Gardiner walked for the third time to put runners on first and second. Enea singled up the middle to score Paculba and move Gardiner to third. Brooks drew a walk to load the bases and the Rebels went to their bullpen again.


Traci Odegard came in to try her luck against the Gators. The sophomore threw an illegal pitch to move all runners up and score Gardiner to give UF its 5-0 lead. Odegard forced sophomore Kristine Priebe (Moorpark, Calif.) to ground into a double play to get out of the jam.


Brombacher recorded seven Ks while allowing two hits and two walks over 4.0 innings. Nelson pitched 3.0 innings, striking out two and allowing two hits.


Florida came away with a 4-1 record at the Cathedral City Classic. The Gators went 3-1 against ranked teams, facing top-25 teams for the first time this season. Waleszonia led the way with a .333 average on six hits, two RBI and a triple. Enea went .308 with four hits and four RBI and Paculba went 4-for-14. Sophomore Megan Bush (Anaheim Hills, Calif.) hit three home runs and added eight RBI to season total, all on Thursday.


Brombacher went 3-0, allowing 13 hits and three walks. She did not give up a run in her 16.0 innings. Nelson registered a 1-1 record, allowing 12 hits and four runs over 19.0 innings. She struck out 20 while Brombacher tallied 15 Ks.


The Gators return to Gainesville to take on No. 4 Michigan on Wednesday, Feb. 25 at 4 p.m.

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