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Friday February 8, 2002Softball No-Hits Tar Heels In Season Opener

Gainesville, FL

The Florida Gators (1-0) defeated North Carolina (0-2) 10-0 in their season opener at the Florida Softball Stadium Friday evening. In the third game of the GRU Classic, freshmen pitchers Amanda Knowles and Brittani Houghton combined for the first opening day no hitter and the first combined no hitter by two freshmen in the program's history.

Knowles (1-0) performed outstanding in her roange and blue debut. The rookie right-hander from Cooper City, Fla. retired 12 straight batters and recorded six strikeouts in four innings. Houghton stepped in and started up right where Knowles left off. The only thing barring the duo from a perfect game was a walk by Houghton in the fifth inning with two outs. The runner got no further than first though, as Houghton sat her down with the second of her two strikeouts.

The Gators offense looked just as good as their pitching in game one. It scored 10 runs on 12 hits and three Tar Heel errors. Junior Jackie Marchetta started her team off right in the first inning with a lead off single to left field. Sophomore Jenilee Garner advanced Marchetta with a sacrifice bunt and freshman Mandy Schuerman blasted her home with a triple down the right field line in her first Gator at bat.

In the second frame it was senior Katy Berger who gave the Gators a jump. Berger drove a double to right center field with one out in the inning. Junior Andrea Zimbardi, the catcher, followed with a single to left field. Jessie Franklin stepped in the game to run for Zimbardi and immediately stole second. Marchetta stepped up to the plate for her second hit of the game and drove home Berger and Franklin, giving Florida the 3-0 lead.

Florida's big inning came in the third. Schuerman led off the inning with a walk. Junior Jennifer Mossadeghi followed with a hard infield single to the short stop. Junior Prissie Walden drove a double deep into center field to score Schuerman and put Mossadeghi in scoring position. With two outs and runners on second and third, Zimbardi hit her second single of the day to drive in Mossadeghi. Walden scored on the play as well on a throwing error by the Tar Heel centerfielder, Quinn Porter. Down 6-0, North Carolina pulled starting pitcher Ashley Allen and brought in relief pitcher Erica Ennis. But the Gators took advantage of the shaken Tar Heel confidence and continued their two-out rally. Freshman Nikki Baldwin stepped up to the plate and singled down the left field line to bring in Zimbardi. Marchetta went to first after four balls and a error by firstbaseman Kelly Ramsey allowed the Gators final run of the inning to cross the plate.

The Gators scored their last two runs in the fifth inning. Zimbardi was the first Gator on base with a walk. Jennifer Brown, pinch hitting for Baldwin, in her first at bat in over a year, drove the first hit of her career down the right field line for a single. A Marchetta single loaded the bases, as Garner stepped up to drive Zimbardi home. Bree Berger came in to pinch hit for Schuerman. Although she grounded out, the runner at third scored to give the Gators their final run of the game.

The Gators are now 1-0 on the season and 23-2 in season opening home tournament games.
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