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Saturday February 9, 2002Softball to Play in GRU Classic Championship

Gainesville, FL

The Florida softball team played their way into the championship game of the GRU Classic today with a 4-1 win over in-state rival South Florida in the late game this evening at the Florida Softball Stadium. The Gators were the visiting team in the game due to their no. 3 seed in the tournament which they earned after a 5-3 loss to South Florida in the earlier game today. Florida was able to fend off the Bulls in the second game though to earn the right to play Florida International in the championship game at 1 p.m. Sunday.

Florida had an early chance to score in the second inning, but quick thinking by the USF defense prevented the Gator score. With runners on second and third, Nikki Baldwin hit a hard grounder to third base. Seeing Florida junior Jennifer Mossadeghi was headed home, the thirdbaseman hurled the ball to home to connect with her catcher for the out.

The Gators were more successful in the third. Junior Jackie Marchetta led off with a walk. Freshman designated player Mandy Schuerman stepped up to the plate and drove the ball over the left field fence to give Florida the 2-0 lead. Florida's final two runs came in the top of the final frame. Marchetta once again led off, this time with a single to the shortstop. She advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by sophomore secondbaseman Jenilee Garner. Marchetta scored on a Schuerman RBI single to left field. Schuerman advanced to second on the attempt to throw Marchetta out at home. Mossadeghi hit a single to right field to put Florida runners on the corners. Schuerman came home on a Prissie Walden ground out to second base for the Gators' final run of the day.

South Florida scored their only run in the bottom of the fourth inning. Ginny Georgantas scored on a Renee Oursler single.

The team lost the first game of the day, 5-3 to South Florida to give them the third seed in the tournament. Florida took an early lead in the first two innings, but the bats went stale and they weren't able to hold on to the lead.

Florida opened the bottom of the first with two outs, but freshman pitcher Schuerman gave her team a boost with a single to center field. Mossadeghi stepped up to drive Schuerman home with a double to left field.

In the second inning junior Bree Berger started the Gators off with a single up the middle. Stacy Rosen followed with another single. The freshman class shined again as Nikki Baldwin drove a double down the left field line to score Jenn Brown who was pinch running for Berger. Jackie Marchetta grounded out to second base, but Stacy Rosen scored on the play to give the Gators the 3-0 lead.

Florida wasn't able to get too comfortable in their lead as South Florida came back to tie the game in the top of the third. Florida pitcher Schuerman gave up three straight base hits to load the bases. The Florida defense kept the lead runner from scoring as Schuerman and catcher, Berger, combined for the out at the plate, but the bases were still loaded. The Gator defense went to work again as short stop Jackie Marchetta connect with Berger for the out at home. Florida's luck would end there. Bulls catcher Courtney Lewellen drove a double deep too center field to score the three base runners. She advanced to third on the throw, but wouldn't advance any further. The damage was done though, as the Bulls had the momentum and tied the game at 3-3.

The second USF batter in the fourth inning drove a solo homer over the left field fence to give them the 4-3 lead. Amanda Moore came in to replace Schuerman at pitcher. Moore held the Bulls hitless through 1.2 innings and Schuerman came back into the game in the top of the sixth. With two outs in the sixth, South Florida right fielder Holly Groves drove a triple into right field. Renee Oursler followed with a RBI single to score the Bulls final run of the game.

With the loss, the Gators became the three seed in the tournament, set to face South Florida again in the late came. This time Florida was able to fend off their in-state rivals and put themselves in the GRU Classic Championship game with the 4-1 win.

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