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Sunday April 18, 2004Softball Loses 10-Inning Heartbreaker, 1-0

Knoxville, TN

The No. 12 Florida softball team was swept for the first time in Southeastern Conference play this season as they lost a 1-0, 10-inning heartbreaker at No. 11 Tennessee. Florida battled hard against the SEC East leaders, but could not put the hits together to plate a run. A controversial call in the top of the 10th cost the Gators a run and the Lady Vols took advantage and used two good bunts in the bottom of the 10th for the win.

The Lady Vols loaded the bases in each of the first two innings, but the Gator defense stayed strong to get out of the innings unscathed. Stacey Stevens took control from the mound in the first inning and struck out Ashley Cline for the third out. In the second inning, Lauren Roussellís 6-1 frame worked to her advantage as she snatched a Lauren Mattox line drive from the air that would have cost the Gators at least one run for the third out of that inning.

Jenilee Garner got the Gators first hit in the top of the fourth frame. She knocked a Monica Abbott offering just over the short stopís head. She was erased later as she was caught attempting to steal second for the second out of the inning.

Florida threatened in the top of the sixth. Lead off batter Michelle Diaz was hit by an Abbott pitch. Nikki Baldwin came in to pinch run for her and stole second on a Garner strikeout. With two outs in the inning Baldwin advanced to third as an Abbott pitch sailed over the catcherís head. She was not able to cross the plate though as Kristen Butler hit a fly ball to right field for the third out.

Both teamsí defense took care of business in the final inning of regulation to send the game into extra innings with a 0-0 deadlock.

Florida lead off batter Roussell got the Gators started with a base hit up the middle in the top of the eighth. With two outs in the inning, Lacy Howard was hit in the head by an Abbott offering, but a Garner pop up would end the inning with no score.

Tennessee put a runner in scoring position in the bottom of the eighth. With one out, Sarah Fekete hit a base hit into short left field. After another out, Kristi Durant was intentionally walked to put a force at any base. Mattox knocked a shot that looked like it would get passed second baseman Mylin Prieto, but she dove and tossed the ball to Roussell at second for the third out to keep the game scoreless.

The international tie breaker began in the top of the 10th frame. Lindsay Norfleet was placed at second to start the inning. She was immediately moved to third on a perfectly placed bunt by Lindsey Cameron. It looked as if she was going to score on a Roussell sacrifice fly to right, but she was called for leaving early to end the inning.

Tennessee took the game in the bottom of the 10th. Cline started at second. She was sacrificed to third by Stacey Jennings and scored on a squeeze play by Mandy Fishback to win the game 1-0.

Abbott earned the win for Tennessee to improve her record to 36-5 on the season. Floridaís Stacey Stevens went the full 10 innings and gave up no earned runs in the loss.

Although Tennessee had 10 hits in the game, Florida played outstanding defense, forcing Tennessee to leave 16 runners stranded.

The Gators will play their final home game of the season Tuesday night against Bethune-Cookman. Game time is set for 7 p.m. The game will be televised throughout the state of Florida on the Sunshine Network.

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