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Lindsey Norfleet led the Gators with a 2-for-4 performance at the plate and five putouts defensively

Sunday February 13, 2005Softball Suffers First Loss of Season, 4-2 to Irish

Gainesville, FL

Lindsey Norfleet led the Gators with a 2-for-4 performance at the plate and five putouts defensively

The No. 19 Florida Softball team (11-1) dropped their first game of the season, 4-2, to Notre Dame (3-2) in the championship of the GRU Classic Sunday afternoon at the Florida Softball Stadium.

The Gators stranded eight batters in the game and were unable to overcome a fifth inning rally by the Fighting Irish.

In the bottom of the first inning, Lindsay Norfleet’s stolen base attempt drew an errant throw from catcher Gessica Hufnagle, allowing Shelley Stevens to score from third base. Stevens’ run gave the Gators their only lead of the game at 1-0.

The Fighting Irish answered in the bottom of the third inning with an RBI single by Notre Dame right fielder Stephanie Brown, tying the score at 1-1.

Notre Dame added two more runs in the top of the fifth inning, knocking Florida starting pitcher Stacey Stevens out of the game. Irish shortstop Katie Laing led off the inning with a double to deep center field. Two batters later, Notre Dame grabbed the lead on an RBI single by second baseman Sara Schoonaert. The Fighting Irish increased the Florida deficit to 3-1 on an RBI single by center fielder Megan Ciolli.

Following Ciolli’s hit, Florida tapped into their bullpen, replacing Stevens with Mandy Schuerman. Stevens pitched 4.2 innings, giving up three earned runs, six hits and striking out two batters. The defeat dropped her record to 5-1 on the season.

Schuerman worked out of a bases loaded jam in the bottom of the fifth inning by getting Mallorie Lenn to ground out to Florida shortstop Lauren Roussell.

Irish pitcher Heather Booth pitched a complete game, surrendering only one earned run en route to her second victory of the season.

Booth settled down after giving up the Stevens run in the first inning. The Notre Dame starting pitcher did not allow a Gator runner to advance past second base until the bottom of the sixth inning. She finished the game with eight strikeouts.

The Gators cut into the Notre Dame lead in the bottom of the sixth inning. With one out, right fielder Nikki Baldwin started the Gator rally with an infield single. Roussell followed Baldwin with an RBI double to the center field wall, narrowing the gap to 3-2. Florida catcher Kristen Butler walked on four straight pitches, giving the Gators runners on first and third with one out. Booth dug the Fighting Irish out of the jam, striking out pinch hitter Savana Kelly and battling with Shelley Stevens before striking her out on the 10th pitch of the at bat.

In the top of the seventh inning, Schuerman surrendered her first earned run of the season on an RBI single by Ciolli. The insurance run increased the Gator deficit to 4-2. The Gators went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the seventh, securing the title for the Fighting Irish.

Lindsay Norfleet led the Gators offensively with two hits.

"Notre Dame played great," Florida Softball head coach Karen Johns said. "I have to give credit to Booth. She changed speeds a lot and kept us off balance."

Florida finished the GRU Classic with a 4-1 record, taking home the runner-up trophy. Johns believes the tournament provided a positive learning experience for the Gators.

"We can take a lot of positives away from this weekend," Johns said. "We showed great unity and maintained our energy level through the whole weekend."

The Gators will return to action Friday against No. 1 California at the UNLV Tournament in Las Vegas, Nev. All of the Gators’ games during the tournament will be broadcast live on Gatorzone.com via Yahoo.com.

 

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