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Thursday March 15, 2001Softball Loses 5-1 to Mississippi State

Gainesville, FL

A rainy evening at the Florida Softball Stadium turned even drearier as Mississippi State defeated Florida 5-1 Thursday to salvage the three-game Southeastern Conference series for itself and spoil the Gators' hopes of a sweep.

MSU (13-14, 1-2 SEC) came out determined after UF (17-8, 3-3 SEC) took both ends of twin bill Wednesday. Bulldog catcher Blaire Brown blasted a two-out, three-run homer in the first inning off of senior pitcher Renise Landry (West Monroe, La./West Monroe). It shocked UF and Landry (8-2), who had won her last three decisions.

"I think we came in ready, but their home run took it out of us," Coach Karen Johns said. "We didn't really expect it."

The Bulldogs scored twice in the fifth, once on Brown's double. Also, shortstop Jennifer Jessup hit an in-the-park round-tripper to right field, which proved more costly than just a run on the board for the Gators. Sophomore Andrea Zimbardi (Green, Ohio/Green) went down with a right knee sprain when she planted her foot to make a throw. Zimbardi started her first game since being released March 13 after rehabilitating an injury to the same knee she suffered last fall in practice. Her status will be determined after a doctor's evaluation.

"That was very hard for us," Johns said. "(Zimbardi) worked so hard to come back. The good news is we've got several people who've been playing while she was rehabilitating."

UF didn't manage a hit until the fourth inning. Freshman left fielder Mylin Prieto (Cooper City, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas) hit one of her two singles to extend her hitting streak to six games. Sophomore Jackie Marchetta (Boyton Beach, Fla./Florida Southern) scored the Gators' sole run in the bottom of the seventh. Marchetta, who came in for injured Zimbardi, laid down a bunt single and moved to third on a ground out and a walk. She caught pitcher Jennifer Pursell off guard and out of the circle with the ball, and stole home.

"Give it to them," Johns said. "(Pursell) pitched a great game. We had a hard time adjusting to the changeup."

Pursell (5-7) went the distance and allowed four hits and four walks, and struck out eight. Landry allowed all five runs on five hits, walked four and fanned one over four and one-third innings. Freshman Amanda Moore (Tuscaloosa, Ala./Hillcrest) came in relief and gave up one hit, a walk and struck out three in two and two-thirds frames.

UF will travel to defending Eastern Division Champion Kentucky March 17-18. Both days of the three-game series start at noon with a doubleheader Saturday.

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