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Kristen Butler was 2-for-4 with three RBI in Florida's 11-3 win over Auburn.

Wednesday March 31, 2004Softball Sweeps First SEC Series with 11-3 Win

Gainesville, FL

Kristen Butler was 2-for-4 with three RBI in Florida's 11-3 win over Auburn.

The No. 13 Florida softball team (34-6, 11-4 SEC) defeated No. 22Auburn (26-7, 8-4 SEC) for the third time in two days to record their first conference series sweep of the season. Despite being down 2-0 in the first inning, Florida came back strong to seal the game with an 11-3 victory in only six innings.

The Gators posted 11 hits to improve to nine games on the season in which the Gators have registered double-digit hits. Three strong innings propelled the Gators past the Tigers who struggled defensively throughout the first few innings and were not able to come back after their early lead.

Jumping out to an early advantage in the first inning, Auburnís Ashley Griffin singled through the right side. After Stacey Stevens struck out the next batter, Auburnís Sara Dean was able reached on a fielderís choice, but a miscommunication among the Gator defense allowed Griffin to score from first and Dean to get all the way to third. A wild pitch to Auburn pitcher Holly Currie, provided Dean the opportunity to score.

Although the Gatorsí offense was not able to come back in the bottom of the first, strong defense allowed them to close out the top of the second. Forcing a double play situation, left fielder Lindsey Cameron caught a fly ball by Auburnís Cami Fenn. After making the first out, Cameron threw to first baseman Melissa Zick who caught Auburnís Kristina McCain trying to return back to the bag after not tagging up before heading to second.

The bottom of the second proved profitable for the Gators as they were able to not only tie the score but eventually take the lead. To start the scoring drive, right fielder Mandy Schuerman cracked a triple to center field with only one out. After some confusion among the Tiger defense, catcher Michelle Diaz was able to reach first on a single, bringing up Kristen Butler to the plate. Butler continued the momentum, hitting to centerfield for an RBI to bring in Schuerman and advance Diaz to third. After Nikki Baldwin, who was pinch running for Butler, stole second to put two runners in scoring position, second baseman Mylin Prieto doubled down the left field line to bring in both Diaz and Baldwin.

After a full inning with no score, Auburn came back in the top of the fourth to tie the game as Paige Jones doubled down the left field line bring in pinch-runner Robin Martin. The Gators regrouped to end the inning with another beautiful double-play by Prieto.

In the bottom of the fourth, the Gators continued to dominate as they started off the inning with a homerun by Lacy Howard, her third of the season, to put Florida up by one. But the scoring did not stop there for the Gators. After Auburn pitcher Kristen Keyes hit both Prieto and Melissa Zick, shortstop Lauren Roussell stepped up to the plate to launch a single up the middle to bring in Prieto and advance Zick to third. Coach Karen Johns then signaled Andrea Magura to pinch run for Roussell, and while Auburnís defense was not paying attention, Magura took a chance and stole second, which gave Zick with the opportunity to steal home. With only one out and one runner in scoring position, Lindsey Cameron doubled to left field allowing Magura to score putting the Gators up 7-3 and prompting Auburn to return starting pitcher Hollie Currie. Diaz would put the finishing touch on the inning for the Gators with a double to centerfield, bringing Cameron home for the fifth run of the inning.

Florida continued to put the pressure on Auburn and in the bottom of the sixth, added three more runs to end the game early, as Zick, Cameron and Roussell scored.

The loss for Auburn marked the first time the Tigers have lost by the eight-run rule since April 27, 2003. The 11 runs by the Gators are the most they have scored this season and the first game with double digit runs scored since the first game of the season.

Florida used three pitchers in the game. Stacey Stevens started and pitched 3.0 innings with four strikeouts. Amanda Moore came in in the fourth inning to pitch 1.2 innings for the win. Her record improves to 4-0 on the season. Amanda Knowles relieved Moore in the fifth inning with two outs, bases loaded and the winning run on deck to earn the save, her third of the season.

Florida now heads into a three game series against SEC-leading No. 5 Georgia at the UF Softball Stadium this Saturday and Sunday, April 3 and 4. Saturdayís doubleheader begins at 1 p.m. Sundayís single game begins at 1:30 p.m. and is the SEC TV game of the week.

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