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Michelle Diaz went 6-for-8 in Florida's two Saturday games in Tampa.

Saturday March 5, 2005Softball Wins First Extra-Inning Game of Season

Tampa, FL

Michelle Diaz went 6-for-8 in Florida's two Saturday games in Tampa.

The Florida Softball team split games on Saturday at the Louisville Slugger Invitational hosted by South Florida in Tampa. The Gators lost to Michigan 6-2 in the first game of the day, but rebounded to defeat the host team 6-5 in nine innings.

The Gators plated the first run of the second game of the day in the top of the first inning. Lindsay Norfleet drew the lead off walk to start the game. Lauren Roussell followed with a base hit through the left side. After an out, Kristen Butler reached on an error that allowed Norfleet to score, giving the Gators a 1-0 lead.

With one out in the fifth inning, Melissa Zick drew a walk. She advanced to third on a Savana Kelly base hit and scored on a Michelle Diaz double to give the Gators a 2-0 lead.

South Florida tied the game on a Christie Chapman two-run homer over the left field wall, just inside the foul pole.

Florida errors proved costly in the first game, as Florida lost 6-2. Four of the six Wolverine runs were unearned due to Florida miscues.

Florida got the first score in extra innings in the top of the eighth. Nikki Baldwin began the eighth inning at second due to tiebreaker rules. She advanced to third on a Shelley Stevens bunt single and scored on a Norfleet ground out to go up 3-2.

The Bulls tied the game again in the bottom of the inning. Carmela Liwag, the runner placed on second to start the inning scored on a Beth Watson base hit through the right side.

Florida went up 6-3 in the top of the ninth. Roussell started the inning on second and moved to third on a Lindsey Cameron ground out. Butler used her first hit of the game to score Roussell. Zick and Savana Kelly followed with back-to-back base hits. Butler scored and Kelly went all the way to third on an error by USF’s shortstop. After a pitching change, Diaz drove a shot through the left side to score Kelly in what would be the game winning run.

The Bulls attempted a comeback in the bottom of the inning. Alicia LePage was placed on second to start the South Florida half of the inning. With one out, Samantha Ray singled down the left field line to advance LePage to third. Ray advanced on a Butler passed ball, but the runner at third was held at bay. The Gator defense got the second out, but Danielle Urbanik stepped up to the plate to score both runners and bring the Bulls within one run at 6-5. A Watson single put two USF runners on base again, but the Gators held strong, forcing the final batter of the game to fly out to Cameron in left field.

Stacey Stevens pitched the complete game to earn her seventh win of the season for Florida.

Michigan scored its runs in the second inning of game one off two hits and two Gator errors. Grace Leutele led off the bottom of the second with a base hit up the middle. She advanced to second on a sacrifice and to third on an error by third baseman Stacie Pestrak. Leutele scored on a base hit that went between Florida’s first and second basemen to give Michigan a 1-0 lead. Florida head coach Karen Johns changed up the defense, putting Mirelis Torres in at first, Kelly at second and moving Norfleet from second to third. The Gators got the next out on a fielder’s choice play, getting the runner at home and leaving runners at first and third. An error by Gator pitcher Stacey Stevens allowed the second run of the inning to score.

Diaz had the first hit against Michigan starter Jennie Ritter in 14 innings with a base hit to left field in the third inning.

The Gator defense held tough through the next three innings as Michigan was able to get hits, but could not plate a run.

Florida narrowed the gap in the top of the sixth inning. Diaz led off the inning with a double to left field. Nikki Baldwin came in to pinch run for her. Norfleet scored her with a base hit up the middle to reduced Michigan’s lead to 2-1.

The Wolverines came back in the bottom half of the sixth frame, scoring four runs on four hits and one Gator error.

Savana Kelly scored Florida’s final run in the top of the seventh on a solo home run.

Michigan’s Jennie Ritter struck out 15 Gators in the win, her ninth of the season. Florida starter Stacey Stevens (6-4) gave up eight hits in the loss, none were extra base hits.

Diaz had a great day for Florida. She had not had a hit since the third game of the season, but went 6-for-8 in the two games, with two doubles.

Florida finishes play in the USF Louisville Slugger Invitational tomorrow. The Gators take on Pittsburgh at 11 a.m. and Temple at 3 p.m.

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