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Wednesday March 24, 2004Softball Takes First Series From Tide Since 1997

Tuscaloosa, AL

The Florida softball team (29-5, 6-3 SEC) wrapped up a series win against conference giant Alabama (28-6, 9-3 SEC) with a 5-1 victory Wednesday in Tuscaloosa. The Gators capitalized on Alabama errors and used timely hitting to secure the win. Florida had not won a series with Alabama since the 1997 season.

Florida went ahead 4-0 in the top of the second inning. Alabama ace Stephanie VanBrakle walked the first two Florida batters, Melissa Zick and Jenny Gladding. With one out a ball got passed catcher Staci Ramsey to allow the runners to advance to second and third. Lacy Howard reached on a fielder’s choice as Van Brakle held a ball hit back to her to keep the runners on base. Kristen Butler hit a hard ball to Alabama short stop Dominique Accetturo, that she could not handle, allowing Butler to reach first and two Gator runners to score from second and third. A Mandy Schuerman pop up deep into centerfield allowed Florida’s runners to advanced to second and third for Jenilee Garner to come up to bat for the second time in two innings. Garner hit a base hit just over Accetturo’s head at short stop to score to runs and put Florida up 4-0.

Alabama got their lead off batter on base in the first inning, but Angela Johnson lined into a double play to clear the bases. The Tide also put runners on in the third and fourth, but pitcher Gladding and the Florida defense was able to take care of the batters to prevent the runners from coming across the plate.

Alabama’s luck changed in the bottom of the sixth inning. Ashley Courtney reached base on an infield base hit and advanced to second on an error. With one out, Jackie McClain was hit by a pitch and Accetturo walked to load the bases. Florida got the second out as they threw out Accetturo at second on a fielder’s choice by VanBrakle, but Courtney came in from third to give Alabama its first run of the game.

The Gators added an insurance run in the top of the seventh inning. Mandy Schuerman drew the lead off walk. Andrea Magura came in to pinch run for her. Magura stole second to put herself in scoring position. With one out, Lauren Roussell drove a double to left field wall to score Magura and put Florida up 5-1.

Gladding earned the win from the pitching circle to improve her record to 15-3 on the season. She struck out four and walked three in the win. Stephanie VanBrakle struck out 11 Gator batters in the loss. Her record is now 9-4.

Florida continues their SEC road run with a trip to Oxford, Miss. this weekend. The Gators will take on Ole Miss in a Saturday doubleheader and a Sunday single game.

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