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Tuesday March 30, 2004Florida Sweeps Fourth SEC Doubleheader

Gainesville, FL

Backed by a strong pitching performance by senior Jenny Gladding, the No. 13 Florida softball team (33-6, 10-4 SEC) swept No. 22 Auburn (26-6, 8-3 SEC) in the first two games of the three game series in Gainesville. The Gators won the first game 2-1 and shutout the Tigers in the second game 3-0.

Gladding put in an outstanding performance on the mound for the Gators. After entering game one for Stacey Stevens in the top of the fifth, Gladding closed out the game for the save, striking out seven batters. Her streak continued into game two as she struck out nine batters. The win improves Gladding to 17-4 on the season.

Florida took game one 2-1, after both teams put in very impressive defensive performances. Both teams went head to head for the first few innings until Auburn scored the first run early in the top of the third off a home run by shortstop Ashley Griffin to put the Tigers up by one.

Unable to retaliate in the bottom of the third, the Gatorsí defense came back with an impressive performance in the top of the fourth. With runners on first and third and only one out, the Gators put together a beautiful double-play as Auburnís Kristina McCain hit a fly-ball to center field. After making the catch, Jenilee Garner threw to second baseman Mylin Prieto who tagged a sliding Martha Phillips out at second to record the third and final out of the inning.

Heading into the bottom of the fourth, the Gatorsí bats were swinging as both Garner and Melissa Zick reached and found themselves in scoring position. With two outs and two on base, Tigers pitcher Kristen Keyes faced Lindsey Cameron. Cameron cracked a double just over the Tiger left fielder to bring in both Garner and Zick to put the Gators on top.

After holding Auburn to just one run, Florida closed out the game with an incredible pitching effort by Gladding as she struck out all three batters to clinch the win for the Gators. Stevens recorded the win for the Gators, improving her record to 11-1 on the season, while Gladding recorded her first save. Auburnís Kristen Keyes recorded the loss moving her record to 13-5 on the season.

In the second game, the scoring started in the bottom of the fourth as catcher Michelle Diaz, who started for the first time since February 28, recorded her first career homerun bringing in Mandy Schuerman to put the Gators up 2-0.

Schuerman added one more run to seal the game for the Gators in the bottom of the sixth. The inning started with a walk by relief pitcher Beth DiPietro to Schuerman bringing Diaz to the plate. Diaz singled down the left field line advancing Schuerman to second. As Garner came up to bat, DiPietro threw a pitch that the catcher, Sara Dean, could not control, allowing Schuerman to score the third and final run.

The Gators go on to face Auburn for the final game of the series tomorrow at 5 p.m. at the UF Softball Complex. Florida will then face No. 5 Georgia in a three game series Saturday and Sunday, April 3-4.

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