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Thursday May 11, 2000Softball Loses To Alabama in SEC Tournament

COLUMBUS, Ga.

Florida Coach Larry Ray told his team that the winner of its game against Alabama would be the one that capitalized on every opportunity. It only took one for the Crimson Tide to secure a 1-0 victory over the Gators in the first day of the Southeastern Conference Tournament at South Commons Stadium in Columbus, Ga., Thursday afternoon.

Third-seeded Alabama (60-10) advances to play No. 7 South Carolina, while No. 6-Seed UF (43-27) gets a second chance to continue in the double-elimination bracket against second-seed Kentucky (36-28). USC defeated UK 2-1. UF is 1-3 against the Wildcats this year.

"I thought it was a hard-fought game," Ray said. "I thought the winner was going to be the team that cashed in on their opportunities, and, unfortunately for us, it was Alabama."

Tide third baseman Kristi Frenier broke up UF hurler Beth Dieterís (Orlando, Fla./Dr. Phillips) no-hitter with two down in the fourth. Her single to left center scored center fielder Kelly Kretschman from second. Kretschman stumbled to the ground after touching third, but still got to the plate in time.

UF had its opportunity to tie it in the seventh. Senior center fielder Jenn Lutsi (Naples, Fla./Barron Collier) led off with a base hit to left field and moved over on a sacrifice bunt. Right fielder Andrea Zimbardi (Green, Ohio/Green) flew out to deep left field, and Lutsi tagged up to head to third. But UA appealed, saying Lutsi left early. First base umpire Susie Benzel confirmed the Tidesí suspicions, ending the game. It was a tough break for the Gators, according to Lutsi. "I just did the normal routine, and, unfortunately, the call didnít go our way."

Dieter fell to 20-13 on the year. She allowed just two hits and four other base runners on walks in six complete innings.

"Beth did a great job of shutting them down for the most part," Ray commented on his seniorís performance. "But, we gave them too many opportunities. She did a good job of keeping us in the game."

UF allowed a base runner in the third and sixth on throwing errors. Dieter got UFís defense out of the sixth with the bases juiced by forcing a ground out.

Bamaís Shelley Laird improved to 32-5 with her 10th shutout. UF got three hits off of the first-team All-SEC pitcher. But, eight went down in the book with a strikeout. Senior Nicole Kreipl (Huntington Beach, Calif./Huntington Beach) led all hitters, going 2-for-3 at the plate.

The UF-UK contest is set for noon Friday. WRUF-AM 850 will broadcast the game live. Tournament scores and an updated bracket are available on www.GatorZone.com.

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