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Wednesday March 18, 2009No. 1 Softball Makes it 18 Straight Wins with Doubleheader Sweep

Gainesville, Fla.

No. 1/1 University of Florida defeated FIU, 3-2 and 5-0, in a doubleheader on Wednesday evening at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium.  Led by senior Kristina Hilberth (Dunedin, Fla.), who went 4-for-6 with three RBI, the Gators racked up 15 total hits.  Freshman Alicia Sisco (Cooper City, Fla.) contributed in game two with perfect 3-for-3 performance. 


The Gators (29-2, 8-0 SEC) snuck by in the first game, tallying all their runs in the second inning.  Meanwhile, the Golden Panthers (16-17, 0-3 Sun Belt) scored both their runs in the fourth.


Senior right-hander Stacey Nelson (Los Alamitos, Calif.) (14-2) allowed a season-high seven hits in the win, striking out six and walking two.  Kasey Barrett (8-6) took the loss for FIU, allowing four hits, two earned runs and four walks.  She struck out five Gators in 6.0 innings.


Florida started the scoring in the second inning with one out.  With the bases loaded, freshman Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) hit a grounder to the second baseman who threw home for the force out.  Junior Francesca Enea (Woodland Hills, Calif.), who reached on an error by the third baseman, beat the throw to the plate to tally UF’s first run.  Hilberth kept it going, knocking in two on a base hit through the left side to give the Gators a 3-0 lead.


The Golden Panthers got two back in the fourth.  Lauren Spiers singled through the left side to start the inning.  Jessica Laudau sacrificed to move her teammate over.  Nelson got the next batter swinging, but FIU loaded the bases when Katie Bell grounded to sophomore shortstop Megan Bush (Anaheim Hills, Calif.), who dropped the ball before she could throw to first.  Pinch hitter Lisa Brooks recorded a two-run single to left to bring her team within one.


The Florida defense paired with Nelson’s pitching stifled the Golden Panthers for the rest of the game.  The righty tallied four strikeouts and three ground outs in the last three innings of play.  In the top of the seventh and only down by one with two outs, Desiree Fink blooped one to shallow left field and advanced to third on a throwing error by Moultrie.  Hilberth made the final out, hustling to catch a foul ball by the FIU on-deck circle, to preserve the Gator win.


Sophomore Stephanie Brombacher (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) earned her 14th win and stayed undefeated, ringing up 10 Golden Panthers in the second game.  The righty allowed four hits and only one walk in her 7.0 innings as she improved her career record to 34-0.  Jennifer Gniadek (6-7) recorded the loss for FIU, striking out one and walking three.


Florida took the lead right away in its first at bat, scoring one run.  Sophomore Kelsey Bruder (Corona, Calif.) started things off with a double over the right fielder’s head.  Senior Ali Gardiner (Waccabuc, N.Y.) kept the hitting up with a single to left field.  Enea reached on a fielder’s choice as she grounded to the shortstop, who flipped to second for the force out.  Bruder advanced on the play and tallied a run when the Gators put on the double steal.  Enea was caught in the pickle but was not tagged out until Bruder crossed the plate.


The Gators added to their lead on another Hilberth RBI.  Bush walked to start the second inning and moved to second on a sacrifice by junior Corrie Brooks (Christmas, Fla.).  She then headed to third on a grounder to second by sophomore Kristine Priebe (Moorpark, Calif.).  Hilberth knocked Bush in on an infield chopper, which the catcher beat out for a single.


Two more UF runs crossed the plate in the third as Sisco and sophomore Aja Pacubla (Wildomar, Calif.) began the inning with singles.  Sisco rounded third and headed home on a Bruder grounder that was mishandled by the third baseman.  After Gardiner drew a four-pitch walk, Enea nailed a single center field to score Paculba. 


Brooks drove one in the fifth to add the final run to the Gators’ score.  Sophomore pinch runner Ami Austin (Ormond Beach, Fla.) used her speed to score from second when the third baseman hit a chopper up the middle.  


The Golden Panthers threatened score a run of their own in the bottom of the same inning as Kim Rodriguez hit a double down the right-field line.  Fink, on first because she was hit by a pitch, tried to hustle home, but Sisco made a perfect throw to Gardiner, who nailed Hilberth for the tag out, preserving the UF shutout.


The Gators return to action as they host No. 6/6 Tennessee in a three-game series this weekend starting on Saturday, March 21 at 1 p.m.  The first game of the doubleheader on Saturday will be televised on Sun Sports.

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